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First Turkey Smoke - have questions

Thanks for reading and your help. I have a LBGE and my mother-in-law and others from wife's side of family are coming over Friday. I bought a brining bag and it came with a brining kit and rub mix. I have read a lot of threads on here as well as recipes online but they are all inconsistent in messaging. Please help with the following questions and feel free to add any other commentary. 1. I want to cook at 350 Degrees is this ok? I have read as low as 225 and read that low and slow is bad. Thoughts? 2. If I cook at 350, approx how many min per pound? I have a 15# turkey and also a Maverick 732 so I'm good there...just want to plan the meal time. 3. Plate setter or no plate setter? I have a v rack and a aluminum turkey pan but am unsure here. I read drip pans should not touch PSL and I read turkey in v-rack in pan. 4. Do you open at all during the cook to baste? 5. I read don't over smoke so is it ok to use 2-3 chunks of wood or is that too much? If I used a couple handfuls of chips should I open in the middle and add more (just once)? 6. I think this is the last question....what do I stuff inside this bird? Potatoes, carrots, onions? Thanks for your help everyone!


  • I'm planning on following this recipe, should answer most of your questions:
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,935
    There are lots of ways to do turkey. Recently the esteemed chef Jacques Pepin recommended steaming the bird first to render out excess fat.  Here's what i can offer.

    350F is standard cooking temp. Low and slow is not bad, but harder to do. The skin is usually not crisp at all, the bird can absorb a lot of smoke, and the breasts may dry out. I've stopped stuffing the bird other than putting a few pieces of citrus inside. Stuffing adds more time to the cook, and, because the veggies need to reach about 205F to be tender, the outside of the bird may burn. Comes out just as well baked separately.

    Poultry tends to take smoke very easily, or at least the skin does. I use just a handful of pecan shells. The smoke seems to help give the bird a more golden color, and is light enough the bird's flavor isn't overwhelmed. A hand full of fruit wood chip also works.

    I usually use a PS. I want the Egg to be more like an oven than a grill, and the PS does that. Lift the drip pan from the surface of the PS. Use foil wads, bits of pipe, whatever. The PS will become hot enough to boil and then burn the dripping. That may happen anyway. Listen for sizzling. Do keep the bird out the drippings. Any meat in the drippings, it will cook faster than the rest of the bird, assuming there are enough drippings to stop the meat from burning.

    Open and baste as you like. It is good to check and see if the wings or drumstick ends are burning. It will slow down the cooking,  Depending on how the timing is going, that can be good.

    I allow 15 min/pound, but it seems that the birds are always done faster. I think the Egg may be more efficient than a kitchen stove in this case.

  • jfm0830jfm0830 Posts: 987
    edited November 2012
    This is my first year doing a turkey on the Egg, but have been cooking turkeys on gas grill or smoker for the past 9 years. So I will be interested in the answer to a couple of your questions that are specific to the BGE as opposed to the turkey. Some of these questions will have a different answer because everyone has different taste,

    1) Most people seem to cook turkey at 325-350. I have made turkeys indirect on the gas grill at 325 and the smoker at 225. The smoked bird seemed to come a little moister, and did have more smoke flavor because I was able to use wood chunks on the smoker at 225 vs chips in the gas grill. The downside was the skin is rubbery and inedible at 225.

    2)  I'd heard 12-15 minutes per pound. Brined birds do cook faster so I am going to use 13 minutes for my 14# bird and modify the timing for my sides if needed if the bird seems to be going slower. Most of the birds I have done have followed a similar pattern: a fast linear rise to the point you begin to worry it will finish way too early and then they slow down for the last 10 or 15 degrees.

    3) That is a matter of opinion based on whether you like your turkey direct or indirect (platesetter). Using a drip pan is heading you in the indirect direction anyway, you wouldn't have anything between the bird and the fire for direct. I am doing mine with the platesetter (legs up no grate) with a cast iron drip pan & v-rack. Based on the advice of folks here I an using some 1/2" copper plumbing T's to raise the drip pan off the plate setter so the drippings won't burn and smoke in the drip pan. I was also told the higher up you get your turkey in the Egg the faster it cooks. This is why I an not using a grate on the legs of my plate setter. I test fit the turkey Monday and if I used a grate on the plate setter the turkey came within an inch of the top.  

    4) Really depends on what the recipe you are using calls for.

    5) You do need to use less wood because turkeys seem to really soak up the smoke. On my offset barrel smoker I used about half the wood I'd use for a pork butt. I am going to use 2 chunks about half the size of a normal chunk for this first attempt.

    6) I used chunks of apple and onion in the cavity and in my drip pan (Not making gravy from drippings). People also use herbs or oranges. 
    3 LBGE & More Eggcessories than I care to think about.
  • I use 2 to 3 chunks for a 15 lb. turkey in an LBGE. .  I use chunks about the size of a lemon.  My first choice is pecan.  Same taste as hickory, but seems to be a little softer flavor.  Make sure you don't have any bark on your chunks. The bark adds a little tannin flavor that a lot of people don't prefer. 
  • These are some good answers and tips guys thanks!
  • I smoke my turkeys at 215-220 degF for about 10 hours.  I recommend using a digital thermometer inserted deep into the breast (not touching the bone) to verify that you get the breast to 165 degF).  I use the placesetter with legs up, and set the bird on the porcelain grate.  There are some things you need to do to deal with issues of crispy skin, amount of smoke, etc.

    First, if you let the bird come to room temperature before putting on the egg, it will absorb less smoke flavor (cold meat absorbs smoke faster).  This is good, because with turkey a little smoke is sufficient.  For crispy skin, rub with olive oil (not butter; butter contains water and will keep the skin a little soggy) and dried herbs (I use chervil and cilantro).  If the bird is cooked long enough, the skin will be tastily crispy.

    Do not stuff the bird - there's no way to properly (and safely) cook the stuffing and the bird together.  You can throw some aromatics (I use the herbs; you can add a quartered onion or whatever you wish) in the cavity, but keep it open enough to conduct heat all around the inside.

    I put the drip pan on the placesetter, rather that right under the bird.  This allows for even temperature cooking of the bottom side of the bird - if the bird sits just above the drip pan, the cooking temperature on the bottom of the bird will be considerably less than on the top or sides.

    Also, do not tie up the bird.  Undo the legs and wings, and let it fly free.  This allows you to cook the breast to 165 degF, with the necessarily higher temperature for the thighs.  If you keep the legs tied, the thighs can be undercooked (or the breast overcooked).

    I do not brine my birds - most store bought ones contain a saline injection anyway.  I do, however, liberally inject them with a good quality sweet sherry.  The nuttiness of the sherry goes particularly well with turkey.  Don't use a dry sherry - you won't like the taste.

  • I just did a 20# bird for Thanksgiving on my LBGE. I used the Amazing Ribs rub and seasoning recommendations: drip pan on PS legs up, v rack on the grate. Stuffed onions, carrots, garlic and celery in the cavity and cooked it at 325 for 3:45ish (about 11 minutes a pound). I ball up 5-6 pieces of foil and stick under the drip pan to get it off the PS. I only used 1 palm sized piece of applewood for smoke and it was plenty smoky for my taste. I didn't baste or brine and it was the juiciest turkey I have done yet. I'm a big believer that if you're looking its not cooking. Good Luck!
    LBGE Knoxville, TN
  • I planned for 15 min / lb and it was done waaay before then. I was around 350ish grate temp. Took about 2 hrs for a 10-11 lb bird.

    Braselton, GA.
  • BRush00BRush00 Posts: 367

    Do not stuff the bird - there's no way to properly (and safely) cook the stuffing and the bird together.  

    What?  Since When?  And Prove It.

    I've been stuffing my turkey's, along with my parents' and grandparents' stuffed theirs forever...  Certainly never planned on changing that idea.  
    [Insert clever signature line here]
  • I would be willing to bet that most wives do not want their holiday bird smoked on the EGG.  Thanksgiving is my wife's special day.  She has to bake the bird in the oven and there will be no negotiating.  Always remember, Happy Wife, Happy Life!

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 1,053
    My wife says "you cook, I'm happy"

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Waunakee, WI

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