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[USA] Smoked Turkey Anyone?

Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 22:13
by Chuckwagon
Hi Sausagemakers!

Here are two of the tastiest ways I know to prepare a turkey. The first is for brined-cured "smoked turkey", and the second is for a unique way of baking a turkey that will cause your tonsils to smack the daylights out of your lips!
P.S. At first glance, it seems like a lot of Prague Powder Cure is being used. Remember, it is used to treat three gallons, work its magic, then it is poured straight down the drain - leaving an ideal 156 ppm. sodium nitrite.

Chuckwagon`s "Smoke n` Choke Turkey
(Delicious, Moist, Smoked Turkey)

2 gallons water
1 gallon 7-Up™ (soft drink)
2-1/4 cups powdered dextrose
1-1/2 cups salt
1 cup Prague Powder #1

Use one of the two following pickling methods:

The "Cover Pickle Method" - Dissolve all the ingredients in water chilled at 38-40° F. (3°C.). Wash the cavity of the turkey very well and raise the temperature of the turkey to 38-40° F. (3°C.) before placing it into the brine. The turkey should be submerged in the brine for at least 4 days at 38-40° F. A larger turkey will take about 5 days to cure. After curing, place the turkey in ice-cold water for three hours.


The "Spray-Pump Method" - Dissolve all the ingredients in water chilled to 38-40° F. (3°C.) Stitch pump the turkey with the curing solution using only 10% of the weight of the turkey. (If using a 20 lb. turkey, pump with 2 Lbs. of brine. A 15 lb. turkey requires 1-1/2 lbs. of brine, while a 10 lb. bird needs 1 lb. of brine). After pumping, place the turkey in ice-cold water for at least 3 hours. Remove the turkey from the water and place it into the remaining pickling solution at 38-40° F. (3°C.) inside a 38-40° F. (3°C.) cooler and allow it to cure 48 hours.

Smoking And Cooking The Turkey

After the turkey has been cured then soaked in cold, fresh, water, place it into a preheated smoker at 130° F. (54°C.). Cook the turkey at this temperature for at least 1 hour with the damper wide open to help remove moisture. Close the damper 3/4 shut (only 1/4 open) and apply a trickle of light smoke for 5 hours at 130° F. (54°C.). Hickory with apple is ideal. Avoid heavy smoke such as mesquite. Raise the temperature to 140° F. (60°C.) and hold the temperature 4 more hours, then cut off the smoke. Gradually, raise the smoke house temperature to 180° F. (82°C.) and maintain the temperature until the internal meat temperature reaches 160°F. (71°C.). Many folks prefer to finish baking the bird inside their home ovens following the initial smoking, serving it fully cooked. This is a moist and tasty option to the traditionally roasted Thanksgiving turkey... when not overcooked! Remember the "carry over effect" in which meat will continue to climb in temperature when removed from its cooking heat source. Removed from the oven when the meat temperature registers only a few degrees slightly above 160°F. (71°C.), turkey will generally continue to cook until it registers 170°F. (77°C.). Cooked further, the meat will be dry - most unprofessional! Use a dial meat thermometer, inserting the stem close to the ball-and-socket joint of the thigh, as this is the last place the meat becomes thoroughly cooked. Remove the turkey from the smoker and serve it hot with a meal or allow the internal temperature of the meat to drop to about 100°F. (38°C.) before placing it into the cooler for a day. Slice the cold meat thinly for sandwiches. Smoked turkey is a perishable product and should be kept refrigerated.

A Unique Method For Roasting A Turkey
Brining A Bird Western Style

We have a distinctive way of preparing a turkey for holidays. We simply brine it in the soft drink 7-Up (mixed in water with salt) overnight. I've often made a turkey brined in Dr. Pepper and one brined in 7-Up and let guests take their pick. I always include a bit of kosher salt to make about a 40° brine solution and place the turkeys in camping coolers (ice chest) just barely submerged in the soda pop. Then I fill the rest of the cooler with ice cubes and let 'em soak twelve hours. Beneath the ice, they are safe. I've baked them until the thighs register 160 degrees F., then removed them from the oven. They are allow to cool just a bit before being finished on a smoky grill finally bringing the temperature up to 170 degrees F. (77 degrees C.).

Please note: More than 175 degrees F., (79 degrees C.) and a turkey becomes too dry. Lots of turkeys are ruined by cooks who think they can cook the bird to about 190F. (88 degrees C.) or so. Temperatures this high just ruin a good bird! If you quit cooking the gobbler when the IMT reaches 170 F degrees (77 C.) , I guarantee the meat will be juicy - especially if it has been brined in 7-Up with a bit of added salt. The salt will actually go into the cells of the meat, change the structure of the proteins, then most of it will exit, allowing the retention of moisture. Its a great way to prepare a turkey. If you are pressed for time, inject the flesh with a multiple-orafice needle and soak it a few hours before you bake it. A little smoke goes a long way on the grill. Twenty minutes in heavy smudge in indirect heat should do the trick.

"Chuckwagon's Dutch Oven Turkey"
(Classic Dutch Oven Roasted Turkey)

Preparing The Bird

Choose a turkey allowing at least a pound per person then thaw it, under refrigeration allowing three to four hours per pound. Remove the neck and giblets for gravy. Reserve the liver for another use or discard it, then prepare the gravy base while the turkey cooks simmering the giblets in a little water for a few hours.

To roast the turkey, allow for baking time of 20 minutes per pound for 8-12 pound birds, or 15 minutes per pound for 12-16 pound birds. Elevate the turkey above the cooking surface (using a cake rack works well), and cover it loosely with foil. Note the turkey is dry roasting and the rack will keep the bird from braising in its own juices. Season the bird by rubbing it beneath the skin with olive oil, rendered bacon drippings, and a teaspoon of soy sauce mixed with salt, pepper, and onion and garlic powders.

Most turkeys are too large for the internal temperature of the bird to reach sufficient temperatures quickly enough to kill bacteria present in stuffing that has been refrigerated. For this reason, you should plan to prepare the stuffing separately or prepare and stuff the turkey immediately before the roasting begins.

The flavor of a turkey may be dramatically improved by stitch pumping (injecting) it. The pump resembles a large hypodermic needle you may fill with melted butter and bacon drippings, along with all sorts of other favorite flavors including soy, Worcestershire, powdered spices, and salted broth. This prevents the turkey from becoming dry without the need for additional basting, providing the proper cooking times and temperatures are observed.

Slicing wide strips of salt pork or slab bacon, and laying the strips across the turkey breast, is another method of adding great flavor. Some western grannies start the roasting with the bird upside down, turning it over the last hour and finishing it off at a higher temperature.

Cooking The Bird

The rule of thumb is to select a lower temperature of 300°F. (149°C.)if you allow sufficient time in advance and keep the bird moist by basting it every thirty minutes. This amount of heat works best, keeping in mind that the lower the temperature, the longer the cooking. Excellent results may also be achieved at 325°F. (162°C.) and once the temperature of the bird reaches 135°F. (57°C.), you may increase the oven temperature to 400°F. (204°C.) for a brief time for browning. At this point the turkey will finish cooking rapidly. If you decide to increase the oven temperature for browning it is important to pay close attention and constantly monitor the bird's internal temperature.

At 180°F. (82°C.) internal meat temperature, the white meat will be overcooked! A perfectly cooked bird requires the use of a thermometer, preferably, an instant-read, probe-type thermometer with an alarm. Nowadays we see the new-fangled pop-up timers. Forget `em! The white meat will be overcooked and dry as it fully cooks at a lower temperature than does the dark meat portion of the bird. The best temperature for perfectly cooked white meat is 155-160°F. (68°-71°C.) with the probe place inside the breast. Be certain that the thermometer does not touch bone or the results will be inaccurate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with removing the leg portions, boosting the heat ten degrees, and allowing them to cook ten minutes longer.

Goodness! I almost forgot the gravy!

"Chuckwagon`s Tidal Wave Turkey Gravy"
(The Best Turkey Gravy In The West!)

This recipe has so much flavor in it, you may wish to just drink it! Best of all, it may be made ahead and used a little at a time.

turkey neck & giblets (without the liver)
1 onion (chopped)
1 tblspn. vegetable oil
4 cups turkey broth* (see below)
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 tblspns. butter
6 tblspns. flour
salt and pepper

*If you are unable to make your own turkey broth, please use Swanson`s chicken broth as it is made using onions, carrots, and celery. Hey, my reputation is on the line here! :roll:

To make the Tidal Wave Broth, heat the oil in a large black skillet, and brown the giblets (without the liver) and the neck until they are nicely seared. Add the onions, cook them until they are softened, and then remove the skillet from the heat for fifteen minutes. Re-heat the skillet, adding the broth and herbs, and scrape the fond from the bottom of the skillet as the mixture begins to boil before turning it down to simmer half an hour. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth and discard the solids. Store the flavored broth in the refrigerator two days or freeze it until you are ready to cook Chuckwagon`s Tidal Wave Turkey Sausage and sourdough biscuits.

To make the Tidal Wave Gravy, heat the refrigerated broth in a pan, and then melt the butter in a shallow Dutch oven over medium heat, whisking in the flour to make a roux. Cook the flour and butter roux, whisking it until it becomes the color of dark honey. Add the broth to the roux, a little at a time, as you continue to stir it with a wisk. Simmer the gravy until it thickens, stirring it constantly.

Note: If you wish to use this Tidal Wave Gravy with a freshly cooked turkey, add even more flavor by scraping up the browned bits of fond left in the roasting pan as you reheat the pan on the stove. Deglaze the roasting pan with a bit of white wine or water and then pour the drippings into a fat separator. When it has cooled, stir the fond-flavored defatted drippings into the gravy for even more richness. Simmer the gravy two minutes, finally seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Good luck, Let me know how your turkey turn out.
Best wishes, Chuckwagon

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:33
by Dave Zac
I tried this recipe last spring and can certainly attest to its deliciousness. Everyone's tonsils were slapping their lips!

Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 06:40
by Chuckwagon
Topic Split by Chuckwagon 1/2/12 @22:36
See: Hyde Park

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 16:49
by sawhorseray
I couldn't find Sticky Chat 2 in Hyde Park, looked twice. This recipe sounds great, I've copied and pasted it onto a word doc, I'm giving this a try. I'm challenged for refrigerator space even tho I've got two freezers in my garage. I'll be incorporating Big Ray's Game Preservation System into this recipe to make it all work for me. For years now when I go hunting I bring a 165 quart marine grade cooler and a half dozen gallon oranje juice jugs filled with water and frozen solid. I've kept hogs and deer for 3-4 days in 100° heat and bring them home just as cool as could be. I'm thinking I'll just use a five gallon bucket for brining and put it in the cooler with a bunch of OJ jugs, they stay frozen 5-6 days in real hot weather. I'm thinking four chickens in a bucket would work out well too! Thanks for posting this, was exactly what I'm looking for. RAY

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 23:51
by Chuckwagon
Ray, be sure to snap a photo or two and let us know how it turns out. If you don't cook it over 170° IMT, then you'll have a real treat coming.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 05:16
by sawhorseray
You bet I'll have some pics CW, I'll most likely chronicle the entire process on camera for my adoring e-mail list of sausage fans. Is powdered dextrose something I could purchase at a local grocery store, I was thinking powdered suger and my wife said no, or just another ingredient I'll have to obtain online? I've got injector needles, meat thermometers, the smoker is panting to go, I'm set with Instacure #1, and I've read so much Rytec I'm starting to not like him even tho he's not around to answer any questions or defend himself (just kidding). It cooled down to a high of 82° here today, I most likely missed my window, it'll be 97° by Sunday and stay there for the next few days. Things should begin to gradually cool down in the Sacramento valley in mid-September to where I'll be able to do some smoking. This years deer season starts on the 22nd for me. I'm far more interested in a wild hog from Dec thru Feb, nice congealed fat, than another antlered rat. My wife just said I'd been typing far too long on my second glass of Beefeaters, bye-bye. RAY

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 22:18
by laripu
I can attest that brined smoked turkey is great. I've never used 7-up, but I've added sugar to the brine; quantity = double the salt. I think that's the moral equivalent to 7-up. I also add pickling spices (see recipes for Montreal smoked meat or imagine Montreal steak spice without the salt). Before putting the bird in the brine I stab it many times with a fork to allow for better brine penetration.

After the brine is rinsed off and the bird soaked to remove more salt, I make a rub with olive oil and the same spices, and rub it both under and over the skin, which I separate from the bird.

I smoke and cook it in the Big Green Egg, at around 400°F. The olive oil and high temp crisps up the skin.

I really agree that it should come off the heat source at around 160°F internal temperature.

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 02:13
by ssorllih
Time for a question. 7-Up is carbonic acid and sugar and lemon juice. The CO² dissipates quite quickly leaving water, lemon juice, and sugar. Does the carbonated water in the 7Up have a substantial contribution in this recipe?

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 06:39
by sawhorseray
I also have a question. I kind of have a hankering to try this out smoking up 3-4 chickens instead of a big old turkey. Would the brining time procedure be the same for four 5lb. chickens as for a 20 lb. turkey, or just a single five pound chicken? I've got a neeedle and am just about ready to start geezing! I figure with displacement I can do four chickens in a 5-gallon bucket with 3 gallons of cure using a very large cooler and ice for the reqiured time period. I'm also planning to begin smoking about 8pm, after the sun is down and I have all night for the weather to be cool enough for smoking. I've got no shade to hide my smoker in, the sun will start to heat up about 10-11 in the morning and reach the mid-90's by 2pm. Maybe I'd be all done by then? Maybe I should just wait till the end of October and do things during daylight? Thanks for your help. RAY

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 06:54
by Chuckwagon
Ross.... nope!
Ray....... yup!

Ray, you wrote:
I'm also planning to begin smoking about 8pm, after the sun is down and I have all night for the weather to be cool enough for smoking.
You should be just fine with the brine and smoking during the night is a great way to beat the heat. However... please note in this heat, ice in an orange jug may not bring the temp down enough to keep chicken. Cubed ice has much more surface area. At the moment, I have four coolers going with a couple of hundred bucks worth of ribs. In this heat, I had to use cubed ice then compensate for the diluted salt solution after only a day and a half.
Have you got a salinometer?

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 08:50
by sawhorseray
Nope, never had heard of a salinometer till right now. My plan is to shoot-up the birds with cure as per directions, place the four chickens in a 5-gallon bucket with the cover-pickle, put the 5-gallon bucket in the center of a 165qt. marine grade cooler, (acting as a refrigerator), and surroud the bucket with blocks of ice (frozen OJ jugs). My marine-grade coolers will keep ice for 5-6 days in 100° heat when loaded full of blocks, I've got about 40lbs. of cube ice I could put into the cooler also. I won't be diluting the original cure with any more ice, therefore, do I need a salinometer? Thanks in advance for your great advice, I truly appreciate your assistance in keeping me from poisoning myself. RAY

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 18:40
by Butterbean
Whole chickens do well with 8-12 hours of brine time.

As for turkey, do people actually eat non-brined turkeys?

One of these was sold at a charity auction and fetched $80. I later dot a thank you letter and two gifts from the person who bought it. :shock: (I think they liked it)

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 00:31
by sawhorseray
Yesterday I picked up four whole 5&1/2lb chickens at the market to break in the new smoker with, 79¢lb. I made a three gallon solution of water,7-up. powdered dextrose, salt, and sodium nitrite as per CW's directive. I shot up each bird with six ounces of sloution with my marinade injector and then placed them in a 5-gallon bucket with the rest of the brine solution, refrigerated in a ice chest. After a ten our soak I took them out to dry for a couple of hours then wrapped them in stockingettes. At midnight I hung the socks in my smoker and put in a pan of apple wood at 125° for five hours, then put in another pan and raised the temp to 140°. After another four hours I removed the chip pan and raised the temp to 185° until the internal temperature of the chickens reached 160°, another five hours time. The results were unreal, a moist chicken with a sweet smoky flavor. This is one recipe I'll be using again and again.





A shout-out of "THANKS" to Chuckwagon for posting so many great recipes and such great advise on this site. The new smoker is a dream, flawless performance. RAY

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 01:25
by Chuckwagon
Ray, those are four of the best lookin' turkeys I've seen in a long, long, very long time! Wow, nicely done pal. I like the way you've tucked away wings and legs and smoked them in a stockinette. Most professional. I am so glad you liked my recipe. The 7-up really does something to the meat eh? Can you believe how moist the meat is? Thanks for your kind words Ray. It's another "pay day" for me. Thank you very kindly indeed. You made my entire day. :wink:

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 03:44
by el Ducko
ssorllih wrote:Time for a question. 7-Up is carbonic acid and sugar and lemon juice. The CO² dissipates quite quickly leaving water, lemon juice, and sugar. Does the carbonated water in the 7Up have a substantial contribution in this recipe?
It would be interesting to measure the pH every 30 minutes to an hour, for a few hours, just to see if CO2 dissipation changes the pH of the bulk liquid and, if so, how fast.

Let's speculate. Rooting around on the internet (so it's bound to right, Right? Yeah, "right!"), lemon juice has a pH of about 2 and 7Up has a pH of about 3.8. If all the CO2 dissipates, the pH will still be pretty low, due to the lemon juice. The hydrogen ion concentration from the citric acid in the lemon juice is close to 100 times that provided by the carbonic acid. I'll speculate that pH changes little. :shock:

Of course, what went on before the CO2 dissipated may have been quite different from what happens later in the game. The pH is probably not the whole story. I've seen recipes that called for a can of flat beer, for example. I dunno. Maybe it's the trace amounts of HCO3- ion that work magic. Old wives' tales? ...or not? ...anybody up for doing two turkeys, one with 7Up and one with flat 7Up?