Thanksgiving Q&A – Study to Smoke Meat with Jeff Phillips

I requested you to ship me your whole Thanksgiving questions so I may compile them and reply them. Boy did you guys get critical about this!

I obtained tons of of questions and after spending hours grouping comparable ones collectively into classes, I’ve answered as many as doable. I’ll proceed so as to add to this FAQ so hold checking again for extra.

As a result of it is a large doc, I’ve included bounce hyperlinks beneath to every part:

Are you able to give the time and temp for a pellet smoker? Any options?

I hear some of us say that the whole lot they cook dinner within the pellet smoker will get finished quicker as a result of air motion from the fan however I’ve not seen something actual vital in my very own cooking and I’ve a LOT Of pellet people who smoke together with Traeger, Camp Chef, Pit Boss and Z-Grills.

In my very own expertise, which is what I’ve to go by, a 12 lb turkey cooked at 225°F – 240°F (107°C – 116°C) goes to take about 6-7 hours to get finished whatever the smoker so long as the thermometer runs true and I do know what the temperature is at grate stage.

If it will get finished an hour early, you’ve got a few choices:

  1. you possibly can FTC* the chook
  2. You’ll be able to flip the pellet smoker right down to it’s lowest setting as soon as the turkey is completed cooking and simply hold it heat till it’s time to eat.

*FTC – An acronym which means foil, towel, cooler. Wrap the turkey in heavy obligation foil, wrap it in a thick towel, then place it in a cooler. I take it additional by filling in any remaining area within the cooler with crumpled newspaper, further towels, and so forth. The FTC technique retains meat above 140°F (60°C) for as much as 4 hours and presumably longer in some circumstances.

Be aware: it’s essential to verify the thermometer in your smoker is working appropriately. Earlier than doing an essential cook dinner just like the Thanksgiving smoked turkey, use a thermometer to check the temperature on the grate to verify it’s studying true.

Here’s a discussion on Smoking Meat about pellet smokers and convection cooking and how this affects times.

I’ve a big frozen butterball within the freezer. If I thaw the chook, then lower it in half, can I refreeze one half for later use?

This will depend on the way you thaw it out.

In case you thaw the turkey within the fridge the complete time and the turkey doesn’t spend greater than 2 hours out of the fridge at any time, you possibly can definitely re-freeze half of it.

In case you select to thaw it out beneath chilly water or within the microwave, and so forth. then it might want to all be cooked.

Plan forward for about 4-5 lbs of thawing per day within the fridge.

Have you ever ever used a buttermilk brine in your turkey? If sure did you discover it price it to do? What was the recipe?

I’ve used buttermilk in my brines many instances and I positively really feel prefer it makes an enormous distinction within the completed product.

Buttermilk has enzymes that assist to tenderize the turkey or no matter you’re brining and it additionally offers the meat a extremely wealthy taste. The salt within the brine, after all, helps the meat to retain extra of its juice throughout the cook dinner.

My primary buttermilk brine:

  • ½ gallon of buttermilk
  • ½ gallon of water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt

Stir salt into buttermilk/water combination for about 1-2 minutes to present the salt time to dissolve into the liquid.

Pour the brine over the turkey to cowl. Maintain turkey and brine at or beneath 40°F (4°C). Brine in a single day or 8-12 hours.

Right here’s extra turkey brine recipes

Do you suggest to nonetheless brine a Butterball turkey that’s frozen in a brining answer, after it’s thawed out? I’ll be smoking on my offset smoker, spatchcock model.

Sure. I’ve been brining pre-injected birds for years and I’m all the time glad I did.

They struggle actual laborious on the butterball turkey manufacturing unit (bless their hearts) to inject taste into the meat but it surely simply doesn’t maintain a candle to what you are able to do at dwelling.

Go forward and brine it even when it’s 8-12{74deba8403d67a05bbf03bfba352571a50b7a4329dae0b1a959139de135af6d6} answer added and I’m telling you, it’ll find yourself so much higher than it will have in any other case.

All of my turkey brines suggest 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to 1 gallon of liquid as a base.

I brine my turkeys yearly however have hassle with easy methods to hold the turkey submerged for in a single day. I bought a brining bag final 12 months but it surely leaked out. I don’t have lots of room in my storage fridge and wouldn’t have a big sufficient container or pot.

Turkeys wish to float so I often put a plate on prime of the turkey to carry it beneath. You may also fill a freezer zip prime bag with ice and lay a few these excessive of the turkey to maintain it beneath. Kind of should get artistic.

You could possibly use an ice chest or a 5-gallon water cooler (the one with the tap on the facet) to do the job so long as you lay down ice within the backside, a big food-grade plastic bag with the turkey and brine and tied up actual good after which ice packed round it.

The ice packed round it will hopefully maintain it upright so it couldn’t leak and I don’t assume there could be a lot melting in simply 8-10 hours if it was stored within the storage or someplace that was fairly cool.

Backside line, the turkey and brine should preserve at or beneath 40°F (4°C) for the complete time to ensure that it to be suitable for eating.

Brining exterior of the fridge requires some pre-planning and additional creativity however it may be finished correctly and safely in case you’re cautious.

what do you consider slicing the turkey in half earlier than smoking it?

I believe it’s a grand concept! Merely lower alongside either side of the spine then open it up like a ebook. Many individuals cook dinner the turkey similar to that. If you wish to take it additional and cook dinner the turkey in halves, you possibly can separate the turkey on the breast bone to create (2) halves.

This additionally makes it simpler to brine and offers you far more manageable items to cook dinner.

If you’re utilizing a extremely small smoker, that is one of the simplest ways to make the turkey match.

Are you able to suggest a great turkey rub?

You’ll be able to, after all, use an equal mixture of salt and pepper or you need to use a SPOG rub which is a mix of salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

My very own SPOG recipe is:

  • 2 TBS coarse black pepper
  • 2 TBS coarse kosher salt
  • 1 TBS onion powder
  • 1 TBS garlic powder

If you wish to know what I take advantage of more often than not on turkey, it’s my Texas style rub. It’s low in salt, comprises the whole lot that SPOG has in it plus a number of extras and the ratios are positive tuned over months of cautious work.

It simply works. Ask anybody who makes use of it and they’ll let you know that it really works nice on burgers, steaks, seafood, nearly something together with turkey. Not solely is it very low in salt, there’s no sugar or sweetener of any variety concerned.

A very powerful factor with rubs, seasonings and sauces.. use what YOU and your loved ones get pleasure from.

With entire birds, 12 lbs appears to be the advisable measurement to make sure they get finished safely within the low and gradual surroundings. Since spatchcocked turkeys cook dinner quicker, what’s the advisable measurement. Ought to I cook dinner a big one or is it nonetheless finest to cook dinner (2) smaller ones?

Spatchcocked birds positively cook dinner quicker and extra evenly than entire birds so, whereas I haven’t seen a advisable measurement for this, I’d say it’s so much safer to cook dinner a a lot bigger turkey if you wish to try this for presentation sake. 18-20 lb turkeys wouldn’t be out of the query for my part.

Nevertheless, for much less work and fewer time, I nonetheless assume it is smart to stay with birds on the smaller measurement. Even when spatchcocking, I are likely to go along with turkeys which are 12-14 lbs to present me extra time with my company and fewer time tending the smoker.

Extra birds additionally offers you further legs, thighs and wings if that’s one thing your loved ones appears to by no means have sufficient of.

See my directions for spatchcocking a turkey

How lengthy to smoke a 16 lb turkey on a Traeger pellet smoker?

There’s lots of variables that go into “how lengthy it takes” together with however not restricted to:

  • Temperature of the turkey when it goes on the smoker
  • Exterior temperature/climate
  • How typically the lid/door is opened on the smoker
  • How nicely the smoker maintains a set temperature

With that in thoughts, I sometimes do turkeys which are within the 12 lb vary they usually sometimes get finished in about 6-7 hours when I’m sustaining a 225°F – 240°F (107°C – 116°C) temperature in my smoker.

A 16 lb turkey goes to take round 8 hours or barely longer. To offset the additional time, you possibly can cook dinner at the next temperature or lower out the spine (spatchcock) to make the turkey cook dinner quicker and extra evenly.

Right here’s a recipe for easy methods to lower out the spine (spatchcock) and smoke it that method. There’s additionally a video on the backside of that web page in case you’d moderately watch it being finished.

One other a part of this equation is that if it’s being cooked on a pellet smoker, it’s actual simple to only cook dinner it at a lot greater temperatures in case you’d moderately hold it entire.

Pellet people who smoke don’t put out lots of smoke at greater temperatures so that you’d wish to smoke it on the bottom setting for about 2 hours to get some smoke taste on it after which crank up the pellet smoker to 325°F (163°C) for one more 2 hours or till it reaches 165°F (74°C) within the thickest a part of the breast and thigh.

Right here’s some suggestions for cooking on a pellet smoker

I’d like to start out my TG turkey within the smoker and end it within the oven. I figured possibly 2 hours in smoke at 225-250, then the next temp within the oven to assist crisp up the pores and skin. Would 350 be good for that, and the way can I calculate the whole period of time utilizing two completely different temps? (After all, I’ll cook dinner it to 163 inside, however making an attempt to determine when to place it within the smoker.) I’ve a 15lb chook that I plan to spatchcock.

No drawback in any respect giving it slightly smoke after which ending the cooking course of in the home. I’m not conscious of a calculator that may give us a definitive time however I can get you fairly shut simply primarily based on expertise.

A 15 lb spatchcocked turkey would take round 4.5 hours to succeed in finished in regular low and gradual temperatures of 225°F – 240°F (107°C – 116°C).

In 2 hours, you’ll doubtless have the ability to carry the turkey as much as about 140°F (60°C). Putting it in a 350°F (177°C) oven will pace up the cooking considerably and offer you one other ~hour or so of cook dinner time.

As with most issues, pad the timing and if it will get finished early, it’s fairly simple to maintain it heat for an additional hour.

How will smoking a number of turkeys have an effect on the whole time it takes to cook dinner?

The warmth is affecting the entire meat within the smoker directly so it doesn’t change the cooking time dramatically however you do want to permit for slightly further time relying on the dimensions of your smoker in relation to how full it’s with meat and the way a lot the airflow is restricted.

Along with this, the additional turkeys are chilly and introduce extra chilly mass into the smoker that the warmth should overcome.

When you’ve got a smaller smoker and it’s packed stuffed with meat, then sure, it’s going to take fairly a bit extra time because the airflow is restricted.

In a typical yard smoker, I often permit an additional 30-45 minutes for every turkey so long as the airflow shouldn’t be vastly restricted.

When you’ve got a extremely massive offset smoker, you might not want so as to add any time in any respect.

When you’ve got lots of meals to smoke and never lots of smoker room, take into account spatchcocking the turkeys which can assist so much. You may also lower the turkey up into it’s items earlier than smoking to assist match issues within the smoker with out proscribing airflow.

One other choices is to cook dinner among the meat forward of time after which reheat it proper earlier than dinner.

Methods to get crispy pores and skin on the turkey?

This was a highly regarded query and I fully perceive. At typical low and gradual temps, turkey pores and skin finally ends up lower than crisp.

Exterior of frying the turkey or cooking it the complete time at actually excessive temperatures, the pores and skin shouldn’t be going to have that satisfying crispness that almost all of us are eager for. However there are some things you are able to do to make it an entire lot higher.

  1. Dry the pores and skin within the fridge for 12- 24 hours earlier than smoking it. That’s proper. After brining it, use a paper towel to pat the skin of the turkey as dry as you may get it then place the turkey on a pan with a rack and set it within the fridge uncovered for 12-24 hours. A full day goes to be your finest guess.

    The dry, chilly air will dry the pores and skin and you’ll discover the pores and skin getting very tight across the bones and meat and much more translucent.

    After drying, add the dry rub or seasoning over and beneath the pores and skin and place it on the smoker.

  2. Prepare dinner at the next warmth. In case you occur to be utilizing a smoker that may deal with greater warmth reminiscent of a pellet smoker, you may give it some smoke at a extremely low setting for an hour or two then crank the warmth as much as 350°F (177°C) or perhaps a little greater.

    The choice is to present it smoke for a few hours at low and gradual then transfer it to the oven at 350°F (177°C) to complete.

    The upper warmth will vastly enhance the result of the pores and skin.

  3. Dry the pores and skin and cook dinner at the next temperature. Do a mix of #1 and #2 above for the very best consequence.

How do you smoke the turkey for some time after which end it off by frying it?

I don’t do that typically but it surely’s a sure-fire strategy to find yourself with actually good turkey pores and skin. The recipe is in my first ebook known as “Smoked Fried Turkey” on web page 64.

The recipe in my ebook recommends you smoke the turkey at 225°F – 240°F (107°C – 116°C) for about 90 minutes after which end it off in peanut oil heated to 375°F (191°C). A 12 lb turkey ought to take about half-hour to succeed in 165°F (74°C) within the scorching oil.

Warning: observe the turkey fryer producers directions very fastidiously and decrease the turkey into the oil very slowly. Security is essential to forestall an emergency room journey on Thanksgiving day!

Haven’t ordered my ebook but? Get it now!

How do I reheat a bone in smoked turkey breast that I smoked the day earlier than ?

Whether or not it’s a bone-in breast or entire turkey, as soon as it’s finished cooking and rested, I wish to go forward and take away the legs, thighs, wings, and so forth. if it’s an entire turkey, then slice up the breast meat.

Be aware: To slice up the breast meat, I like to recommend making an attempt to take away the entire breast from the turkey as one massive piece then slice that up moderately than slicing it from the carcass.

Place all of that meat right into a foil pan and in case you occur to have saved among the juices (hopefully) you possibly can pour that excessive of the turkey.

Cowl the pan tightly with foil and put it within the fridge as shortly as doable to maintain it secure.

To reheat, depart the foil on the pan. Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C) and as soon as it’s prepared place the pan of turkey + drippings into the oven for about 30-45 minutes. How lengthy it takes will rely upon how a lot meat is within the pan.

In case you wouldn’t have any drippings, you possibly can pour a cup or two of rooster inventory/broth over the turkey.

After half-hour of reheating, examine the temperature of the turkey with a thermometer otherwise you finger and when it will get to a great consuming temperature, you’re good to go. You wouldn’t have to reheat it to 165°F (74°C)! A great consuming temperature is mostly round 120°F (49°C) for my part.

The much less reheating you do, the much less likelihood it should dry out. With the foil excessive and the drippings/broth within the pan, it ought to retain it’s moisture and be a tremendous meal.

I’ve finished this many instances with nice success.

You may also depart it entire and reheat it that method if presentation is an enormous issue.. generally it’s.

In case you plan to reheat the entire turkey with out carving it first, place it into a big foil pan as soon as it’s finished cooking. Pour any drippings you’ve got into the underside of the pan and/or a couple of cup of rooster broth and canopy tightly with foil. Refrigerate shortly.

Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C) and as soon as it’s prepared place the pan of turkey + drippings into the oven for about 60-90 minutes. How lengthy it takes will rely upon how a lot meat is within the pan.

Verify the inner temperature of the turkey utilizing a meat thermometer and as soon as it reaches a great consuming temperature or about 120°F (49°C), carve and eat.

I bought a type of Popeye’s pre-cooked/frozen Cajun turkeys. What do you consider reheating/ending it off in my Traeger smoker?

There’s not too many issues I gained’t reheat on the smoker however a part of this may must be slightly experimental in case you’re wanting some smoke taste on it.

Their directions are to wrap foil round it tightly and cook dinner in an oven preheated to 375°F (191°C) for 1.5 hours.

I’m anxious it will dry out in case you reheated it open for the complete time. I assume an possibility could be to smoke it in your Traeger’s lowest setting for max smoke for about half-hour then cowl it up and observe the directions as acknowledged or till it reaches an inside temperature of 150°F (66°C).

half-hour is fairly secure.. it will provide you with some smoke taste and isn’t sufficient time to cut back the moisture.

I plan to smoke a few turkey breasts for Thanksgiving, then journey a brief distance for the dinner. Can I take off the turkey early, journey, benefit from the day with family members then end the chook within the oven?

You’ll be able to’t cook dinner the turkey in (2) completely different levels until it’s again to again (no journey time, wait time, and so forth.).

As an illustration, you could possibly smoke the turkey for two hours after which transfer it to the oven at 350°F (177°C) however you possibly can’t smoke the turkey for say 2 hours after which wrap it up, journey to your inlaws, place it within the oven there and proceed cooking it.

Throughout this time, the turkey would drop into the hazard zone which is 40-140°F (4°C – 60°C), the zone wherein micro organism grows actually quick. It’s essential to get the turkey by way of and past this zone as shortly as doable for it to be secure.

Simply to reiterate, I get requested this query so much and simply to reiterate, it sounds good in principle however in actuality, this may be extraordinarily unsafe to do.

The higher possibility is to cook dinner the turkey all the way in which, then use one of many following choices:

  1. FTC the finished turkey till it’ time to eat.
  2. Refrigerate and reheat

I’ve obtained LOTS of questions on time per pound for turkey and I’ll tackle all of these right here.

In my expertise, I’m not conscious of any time per pound that works persistently for cooking turkey outdoor in a smoker. There are too many variables reminiscent of wind, how typically the lid/door is opened, temperature of the turkey when it goes into the smoker, and so forth..

Attempt to do the identical measurement turkey each single time and after some time, you begin getting a “really feel” for it. I like to recommend going with a 12 lb turkey, it’s safer to cook dinner, will get finished in about 6-ish hours at 240°F (116°C) in case you cook dinner it entire or about 4 hours in case you spatchcock it. If you wish to get it finished quicker than that, you possibly can definitely flip up the warmth.

After all, as I’ve stated many instances, in case you want greater than 12 lbs of turkey, cook dinner a 2nd turkey of the identical measurement. Leftovers anybody?

I wish to cook dinner a 14 lb turkey and double smoke a ham collectively. How do I be certain the whole lot will get finished on the similar time?

The turkey goes to take roughly 7.5 hours or so. The hams are often heated by way of in 3 to 4 hours max.

With that in thoughts, no matter time the turkey goes in, the ham goes in when there’s solely 4 hours left.

Turkey time minus ham time = offset hours or higher written as 7.5 – 4 = 3.5

In case you put the turkey in at 8 AM, the ham goes in 3.5 hours later which is 11:30 AM and hopefully the whole lot will get finished at about 3:30 PM.

The ham may be very versatile so it may possibly simply go slightly longer or might even have the ability to be finished barely sooner if the turkey occurs to complete early.

Have you ever ever put the Turkey dressing within the smoker to cook dinner and provides it a smoky style?

I don’t sometimes do that but it surely’s simple to do. I like to recommend protecting your smoker at round 250°F (121°C) for about 45 minutes or till the stuffing/dressing is completed by way of. In case you want it browned on prime, you may give it a couple of minutes beneath the oven broiler simply earlier than serving.

I’ll be up at 7000’ preparing for my elk hunt on Friday following turkey day, I gained’t have the ability to smoke my TG dinner however will likely be cooking it over a mattress of oak coals in what will likely be in all probability 30’ climate, with figuring out that, would you suggest an elk loin steak or a mountain lion loin steak? Each had been from final years hunt.

Each of those are extraordinarily lean and whereas I’ve by no means eaten mountain lion/cougar, I like elk so that might positively be my first alternative. I don’t do lots of wild sport however what I’ve finished has benefited vastly from loads of bacon and butter and a great 24 hour soak in buttermilk.

After all, something cooked over scorching oak coals in the midst of the woods goes to style superb!

What’s the finest smoked facet dish to go along with Thanksgiving? I’m already smoking the turkey.

Some individuals smoke the dressing/stuffing however in case you’re in search of one thing completely different, I like to recommend smoked Mac-n-cheese or smoked tacky corn. Each are showstoppers and superb with smoked taste.

Right here’s lots of smoked facet recipes if you wish to browse.

I will likely be smoking ribs for Thanksgiving. What’s your finest recipe for smoking babyback ribs?

There’s nothing mistaken with going non-traditional for Thanksgiving and smoked pork ribs are an excellent different!

My favourite smoked child again rib recipe is the espresso brined child backs I did some time again. They’re tender, tasty and I don’t assume your TG crowd will thoughts a bit.

Right here’s my listing of favourite smoked pork ribs

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