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Turkey Tips
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Turkey Tips  Reply with quote

Itís been almost 1 year since I smoked a turkey and it was on a cheapo offset and I could hardly close the cook chamber lid due to the size of the bird plus the outside temp was in high 30ís and windy Ė I had to use a welding blanket to help maintain the heat I was losing because of the thin cooker metal and weather conditions.

This Thanksgiving should be an easy cook on my Lang 36 BUT, to be sure, tomorrow Iím going to  test cook a 10lbs. bird to insure I get it right for the 13lbs. & 6 folks were having for Thanksgiving Ė I think thereís more pressure to get it right while cooking for guest than for competition!!  

Iím sure some of you pitmasterís can provide additional great tips. Hereís a few, for what they are worth, that Iíve learned over the years:

*Donít cook stuffing in turkey Ė it takes longer for the heat to get to the center of the bird.
*Cook the stuffing in a muffin pan!!
*Stuff cavity with quartered med onion, sage, thyme, 3 garlic cloves & peel of 1 orange.
*Donít inject if the bird is labeled enhanced, self basted or Kosher.
*Apply the wet rub over & UNDER the skin. I donít brine .
*Cook bird on a rack above a water filled roast pan.
*Donít trust the ďpop upĒ Ė itís set for 185 degrees. Use a DIGITAL THERMOMETER.
*Donít baste during the cook Ė it will make the skin soft. Apply oil BEFORE the cook.
*Remove at 160F internal and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
*Donít tent while resting Ė steam will soften the skin.
*Remove breasts before slicing so you can slice across the grain.
*Cover wings, drumsticks with alum foil for part of the cook (veg oil alum for easy removal).
*Cook breast side UP.
*Remove clips holding drumsticks before cooking - my neighbor forgot to!!

Don G

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Wood River BBQ Team
Post Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:32 pm†
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

I "test drove" a 10lbs turkey today using the following method -- I started with lump and camp fire wood to build a hot base. No problem holding 300F. That's the easy part. At about 90F internal I added a combination of pecan & apple and stopped adding hardwood at about 140F, which is my usual practice and converted to lump for the rest of the cook and removed the bird at about 163F internal. My wife looked at the bird and asked "what the hell is that??". The bird was too dark looking but the sucker was moist and tasted great -- it just looked like crap!!

I never want any of my products to be over powered by smoke -- I think you should taste the flavor of the meat and not the smoke but I think I over did the smoke this time. †

The next turkey smoke is for real on turkey day and I can't afford to fool around because we have 6 guests who think I'm a pitmaster -- only because I told them I was and I have a $1200 Lang in my yard!! My plan is lump with very little smoke and I'm going to cook it the day BEFORE. If worse turns to worse there's a BBQ joint down the road and I'll buy a BIRD from them to maintain my reputation!!

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Wood River BBQ Team
Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:44 am†
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wvanhoy





Joined: 23 Jul 2011
Posts: 8


Location: North Carolina

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Could your smokestack extension be allowing too much smoke to cover your meat?

With your modification to try to equalize the temps from left to right, could you have created a draft issue in the process?  If this modification was not from you, I apologize.

I believe you had an earlier post where your butts were too smokey and I thought of this.

Also, there are pictures in other posts on this forum that show very dark turkeys.  I cannot say from personal experience yet so I am curious as to what responses you get.  I am trying to soak up as much information as possible before I get to order my Lang.

Good luck to you and continue to post.  I have already learned a good bit from the info that you have provided.
Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:46 pm†
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

wvanhoy: I've never had this problem with any of the meat I've cooked in the past and I changed nothing (Pinwheels/stack fully open/fuel) so I don't know what happened. I don't think it's the chimney extension -- it was just too much smoke. The cooking chamber has a layer of soot. When I was using briquets, I use Lump now, I had an ash problem.

Last years turkey, which I cooked on a cheapo smoker, came out looking and tasting great BUT I had converted the cheapo to propane. Yesterday turkey tasted good but looked like crap. It could have been a tad moisture but I didn't brine it (only injected) and that might be another mistake.

Today I'm buying a turkey breast, which I'm going to brine and inject and test drive. ALso, I'm going to cut back on the wood and use 95% lump.

Part of the problem is the Lang is such an efficient cooker that it doesn't take much to screw things up. You have a lot more leeway with the cheapo's as they are more forgiving. The Lang thinks I know what I'm doing and gives me back what I put into it!!

Don G

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Wood River BBQ Team
Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:52 pm†
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

I talked to some of the guys I compete with and they advised I should have brined the bird. I did last year but skipped it this year and just applied a rub and injected. According to these guys the brine induces the meat to allow moisture and flavor to enter the bird. They said I should brine for 12 hours max, then wash completely and let sit for 3 hours to let the skin dry.

I'm brining this next bird and we'll see what happens with my next test drive.

Don G

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Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:37 pm†
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Midwest Freak





Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 89


Location: Rayville , Mo

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did you wrap it in foil at all ? just curious because i see a lot of guys split the turkey and then foil after you get the right internal temp .
Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:47 pm†
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank: I didn't tent because I think it makes the skin soft but turkey is a product I cook once a year so it's hard to get good at it.

I did discover part of my problem. I use camp fire wood to get the lumps †going but pine, spruce and fir have a more open cell structure than hardwood and are loaded with sap and turpentine so they burn hot and fast, which is why I use them to develop the hot bed of coals.

Additionally, they produce a lot of smoke. Some how this junk wood got mixed in with my pecan and I never noticed it even thought pecan and the other stuff don't even look the same. My wife later told me she cleaned up and organized my wood pile of mesquite, oak, pecan and camp fire wood. I can't blame her as I should have noticed the difference but I kept piling in the combo of cheap stuff and pecan -- no wonder it was easy to maintain 300F !! We live and learn.

Don G

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Post Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:23 pm†
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DBA1954





Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Posts: 148


Location: Orchard Park NY

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I did a 13 lb bird 3 weeks ago. Smoked with cherry and maple mix at 325. I had it on a rack, in a foil pan, on the bottom rack of the smoker. At the 2 hour point I basted with butter. She was done at around 4 hours and was perfect. Turkey  (chickens too) can take on a lot of smoke quickly. Cooking hotter I think reduces the exposure time a little. I plan to do one for thanksgiving for sure.
Post Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:12 pm†
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

What did it look like? Mine looked like I painted it with dark brown shoe polish or paint!! I cooked at 300F but I thnk I'll jack the next one up to 325F.

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Post Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:17 pm†
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DBA1954





Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Posts: 148


Location: Orchard Park NY

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

it was golden to dark brown. I used mostly Maple with some cherry. The cherry makes it a little darker ...

Post Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:06 pm†
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