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First Turkey Questions-Need to Impress the Family

willrevwillrev Posts: 80
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Having lots of family this Thanksgiving. Want to do a 20 pound bird on the Large BGE. I really don't want to mess up the first time doing this. A few questions. I have a rib rack I can invert, need a drip pan. Have plate setter. What smoke wood is best? Should I brine (Oh boy - I know that will start an argument!) It looks like I will have to cook 6-7 hours at 325 degrees for that 20 pounder. And what smoke wood would be best with turkey? I need to go to the store today to get supplies, so I am hoping for someone more expert than I am to give me a few items I might need to get this job done right. Thanks for any tips. Still a newbie and want to impress the family guests.

Comments

  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    Pecan and apple are good woods. Go to the Naked Whiz website and look up the Mad Max Turkey. This will get you started well. You should try a trial run to make sure everything will fit into your cooker: use a basketball for the turkey. If you elect to go the M M method be sure to make the gravy. Good luck.
  • Just got done printing off the MM method. Does not look like he uses the inverted rib rack. Does this method leave the turkey in the pan with drippings?
  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    A rib rack can be used if it will fit. Either way, you will get a good turkey in the end. Just make sure the bottom of the bird is well protected from direct )or really hot indirect) heat sources.
  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    willrev, I am no eggspert on turkey. Last year was my first. Here is my first turkey post from last year. Maybe the pic's will help you with your setup. Tim

    http://www.eggheadforum.com/index.php?option=com_simpleboard&func=view&id=769312&catid=1
  • That MM turkey can be really overwhelming to a novice egger and you do not want it to be your "first run".

    Couple of things:

    1. don't be ashamed to brine; but a twenty pounder will be a challenge. it is an option but the method below will keep your bird from drying out.

    2. get a good thermometer put in the breast and pull the bird at 152.

    3. don't worry about adding smoke chips it will be smokey enough - but if you must use a sweet wood vis-a-vis apple or cherry.

    4. i would recommend an aluminum pan cover the bottom with rough cut trinity (garlic, cellary and onion - this will include green bell pepper if you're in Louisiana). Baste the bird with bacon fat or butter - cook at 350 to 152; should take about 2.5 to 3.0 hours. Strain drippings for gravy.

    5. relax - you can't screw it up!!
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,943
    first time cooking a turkey in the egg, i would cook two smaller birds, one traditional in the oven and one in the egg. maxs recipe is simple, stuff bird with veggies and herbs, cover with butter, pour some wine on it and cook. he has alot of tips to make it better but it is as simple as that. go real light with the smoking wood, i use a small chunk of pecan for flavor and a small chunk of cherry for color
  • you just need to get the bird off the bottom of the pan...use a trivet, a v-rack, an inverted ribrack ....whatever. ...all the grocery stores sell cheap v-racks this time of year that are perfect. ...
  • BigABigA Posts: 1,157
    have you ever egged a turkey before? if not i would suggest doing a trial run, it will be well worth your time. If having guests over you probably want to have one under your belt. I cook mine at a 375 dome temp, which get about a 325 - 350 grid temp. I dont brine. i dp put a butter mixture under the skin of the bird. I dont use the v rack, i leave the bird in the drip pan, i also have a water pan under my drip pan that is on top of the plate setter, it is there for an extra heat barrier. it works well for me.
    here is one that i did a couple wks ago
    IMG_1864turkey.jpg
  • why is it overwhelming ....the directions are long and detailed so that it is easy for you to do. ..not hard....i've taken all the trial and error out of it for you....all you have to do is follow along :lol:
  • The nice thing about the Mad Max method is that it's so detailed, and written for eggheads. You don't have to read an oven recipe and figure out what you need to change to be able to do it in the egg...it's all there, in detail (LOTS of detail, if you read the daily updates). Sure, there are lots of things you can change or leave out, but the level of detail and explanation is perfect for a newbie.

    I did a 20 pounder for the family last year. It was the first time I'd cooked my own turkey, and it turned out great. Even mom (who has done our birds every year since I was born) admitted it was the best turkey she'd ever had.

    I have a rectangular roasting pan that I purchased back when I was still using my oven on a regular basis. It doesn't fit in my egg, so I bought two oval disposable foil pans from the grocery store. The rack that came with my roasting fan fit in it perfectly, so I was able to keep the turkey up out of the drippings. I put one pan directly on the plate setter, then dropped in several similarly-sized foil balls, then the second pan, with the rack and turkey. The foil balls between the pans keep the pan with the juices from sitting directly on top of the hot plate setter, where they would burn and be unusable for gravy.

    Smoke is totally optional, err on the side of less smoke, rather than more.

    Brining is optional. The egg alone makes for juicier birds than oven cooking, but brining is a great way to provide seasoning and flavors, if you'd like. Last year, I dry-brined my bird. Look for a recent post about dry-brining by RRP...there's a link in there that explains it.

    When I did mine last year, I used half the recommended amount of lemon (in the turkey's cavity), and half the amount of wine (poured over the turkey), because of some tips I saw here on the forum. The gravy was out of this world.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i think the first time thru long directions can make it seem daunting, but it really isn't.

    first time i made your turkey (or pulled pork, or paella... all written up on the whiz's site), i printed out the directions and allowed it to seem like it was more than it was.

    it really is easy
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Nice knuckle-dimples, BigA. ;)

    Nice looking bird, too.
  • BigABigA Posts: 1,157
    haha :laugh: :laugh: Thanks!! My 7th month old son Morgun really wanted a piece!!! :)
  • yep, the whole idea was that i did all the work, laid it out step by step, so there would be almost no guess work for those who had never done it before...
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,943
    seen a new method this weekend with chilled duck grease pushed under the skin, might work instead of the ice pack on the breast ;) could you test that for us :laugh: :laugh: its pretty hard to mess up with your method, even if you miss a step or two. N B,s method isnt that far from yours, aromatics, butter, roast etc, you just have more detail on the finer points that put it over the top
  • This will be my first turkey as well. I'm looking forward to doing the Mad Max turkey! I mean, there are detailed instructions and even videos on YouTube. ;)
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    catch-22. for the unintiated, all the directions look like there's a lotta work. can't win, max. :unsure:

    danged if you do, danged if you don't
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • I believe your cook time will be way off. The egg cooks like a convection oven and turkeys finish relatively early. As I recall, last years biggest problem was the turkey finishing way to early. I would cook at 375and plan on 3 to 3.5 hours for a 20 lb bird. I hope others with experience with this size will chime in with their experiences. I have a medium egg and a 13 lb bird will finish in slightly over 2 hours at 375 dome temps.
  • are you S&*TING me??!! duck fat under the skin?!! that sounds like pure genious and would take it right over the top!! not to mention the great flavor in the drippings for gravy....i may just have to give that a try....

    duck fat makes EVERYTHING taste better!!
  • AngelaAngela Posts: 461
    We have done turkey on the grill for over 15 years, first on a charcoal weber then on the egg. Never put the turkey in a pan of any kind. Personally I like the the whole turkey to get the benefit of the heat and smoke and I don't want anemic looking skin on the bottom from being in a pan. So as I posted in the other thread on this subject we put the turkey directly on the grate and drip pan sits below the grate on the plate setter with feet under it so the drippings don't burn.
  • willrev, I can't believe Max didn't inform you of the Mad Max Turkely Hotline that he usually has open on Thanksgiving Day.

    Maybe Max will chime in here and let us know if the Mad Max Turkey Hotline will be open this year. It's an egghead tradition around here.
  • absolutely the hotline will be open on wednesday and thursday of thanksgiving.....and the "tips" will start going up on the naked whiz's "mad max turkey central", i believe the first one goes up tomorrow or thursday ....
  • I read the entire Mad Max method and nothing looks complicated to me. I am a cook from way back. The gravy is traditional Southern USA style that my grandma used to make minus the Big Green Egg. Picked up the pecan wood and apple wood. Plan to use a mix. Since my bird is 20lbs, I may consider a brine, but not sure yet. I like the Max method. Found a nice commercial pan from Volrath at the local restaurant supply that fits my rib rack perfectly for catching drippings.
  • Some people rub their turkey in pig lard. I guess that might be as close as duck fat. Shoot, where I live, I know I can find lard, but duck fat? Maybe at the Chinese grocery!
  • All right. One last question. Cooking temp and time for the 20 pound bird. It seems there is a fair amount of disagreement. If we are to eat at 12:30pm, what time should I put on the bird and at what temp? Max?
  • good for you. . .yes, i learned to make gravy primarily from my wife's aunt, a good old virginia baptist country woman. ... she was a great country cook!!. ..

    you pan sounds perfect. .just make sure it fits in the egg. ...

    as far as the wood, just don't use too much. .. one chunk of each should be more than enough. . . i love a chunk of pecan wood for turkey. ...adds great flavor as well as great color to the bird. ...
  • i roast mine at between 325 - 350 dome temp ...so it takes a little longer. ..figure 13 - 15 minutes per pound or for a 20 pound bird 5 hours.. if it finishes early, no big deal, just tent it good in foil in a corner of your kitchen. ...you will be up at OH-DARK-THIRTY to be ready at 12:30 anyway. . .LOL . . .i usually like my bird done a good hour or more before dinner time so i have plenty of time to make gravy and let it simmer for a while. . .. and then also finish my side dishes like the mashed taters, etc. ..
  • KMagnusKMagnus Posts: 114
    I've cooked 2 19 lb turkeys within the last 2 weeks, one which I did not brine and one which I did. I can say since I did the cooking and carving that the one I brined was definitely more moist than the one I did not. It also took a little longer to cook, but I can't say that was a result of brining.

    I have at least a couple more to do in the next week, so plan on using a small chunk of pecan. I also plan to brine both of them. Funny though - I wasn't supposed to be doing the turkey for Thanksgiving, but when my step-son tasted the last one I cooked - he thought it would be a better idea if I cooked it rather than him deep frying it!

    Good luck!

    Ken
  • CageyCagey Posts: 79
    Go out this week and get yourself a 10 pound turkey and run a Mad Max cook. I did it last weekend with no issue. I wrote about it on a prior post, with no problems. Max is there to answer your questions ASAP. You could probably call him and get even more information. Just remember to put the apple wood or what ever you are going to use mixed in with the lump. I forgot this when I fired up the egg. Just threw the wood on top of the lump, which was fine but I believe I would have gotten better results with it mixed in the lump. Even if you eat 1/4 of the bird and fee the rest to the dogs or deep six it, you only lost about 6 dollars of turkey and 3 dollars in lump. In the end, you will feel better prepared for your Thanksgiving day cook.
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