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Thread: Talking Turkey

  1. #121
    Corporate lackey for Jesus Jeff Lebowski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by All-American View Post
    Going to other BBQ places is tough for me. For the amount of money I spend for one or two plates at a BBQ joint, I can feed several times that many cooking it myself, with results that are sufficiently good so as not to outweigh my astonishing cheapness. Plus, I think it's fun.
    Yep.
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  2. #122

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    Quote Originally Posted by All-American View Post
    Going to other BBQ places is tough for me. For the amount of money I spend for one or two plates at a BBQ joint, I can feed several times that many cooking it myself, with results that are sufficiently good so as not to outweigh my astonishing cheapness. Plus, I think it's fun.
    Since I started cooking for money this year, I’ve gone to more BBQ places in the last 8 months than I had the previous 10 years combined. I usually leave disappointed in the money spent. I’ve found that I basically care more about the quality of the sides now than the BBQ. And I’m nothing special. It’s just hard to cook huge batches of BBQ and have it be better than what you can do on your own. The price just is injury to insult.
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  3. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJF View Post
    Since I started cooking for money this year, I’ve gone to more BBQ places in the last 8 months than I had the previous 10 years combined. I usually leave disappointed in the money spent. I’ve found that I basically care more about the quality of the sides now than the BBQ. And I’m nothing special. It’s just hard to cook huge batches of BBQ and have it be better than what you can do on your own. The price just is injury to insult.
    I make no pretense on being able to compete with a professional's quality, happy as I am with what I have been able to do. I just suffer from clinical parsimony.
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  4. #124

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    Quote Originally Posted by All-American View Post
    Tip no. 1: you don't need to take breast meat to 160.

    165 is the temp you need to reach to kill all bacteria instantly. But you can do the same thing if you get it to 150 for at least 5 minutes. Odds are pretty good that by the time you got to 165 (or 160, which does in 30 seconds what 165 does instantly) the little bugs will be long dead. Give it five minutes after you notice the breast meat reaches 150, and you'll be good to go. Going higher than that risks drying it out.

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    Tip no. 2: air dry after a wet brine.

    Brining is a great practice-- it will do wonders for juiciness-- but it will also keep the skin moist when you cook it. You want that crispy skin. After brining, put the bird out so the skin can dry up, which will increase your odds of a good, crisp skin (as will cranking up the temperature at the very end of the cook).

    Tip no. 3: separate the parts.

    The truth is that turkeys were not designed to be cooked whole. The part that will cook fastest, the breast, is the part you want to keep at a lower temperature, and the part you need to get up to 185, the thigh, won't get there until the very end. Take a few minutes to pull the thing apart. There's something oddly empowering about deconstructing the turkey, but more importantly you will be able to manage the temps of the individual cuts to get each part just right. Then you can give the legs to the two cavemen of your party, hot-temped thigh meat to the savory minded, and perfectly moist breast meat to the rest. (This comes at the cost of your Norman Rockwell moment, admittedly, and I don't discount the value of tradition lightly. I mean, if you really wanted the best turkey possible, you'd ditch it altogether and smoke a brisket.)
    I'm thinking of doing this for Thanksgiving, but have a few questions.

    Do you cook the breasts and legs at the same time, or do you start one before the other? And do you cook the legs to the same temp as the breasts? Also, our turkey is 22+ pounds. How long do you think that would take, and what temperature to you set the smoker to?

  5. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bo Diddley View Post
    I'm thinking of doing this for Thanksgiving, but have a few questions.

    Do you cook the breasts and legs at the same time, or do you start one before the other? And do you cook the legs to the same temp as the breasts? Also, our turkey is 22+ pounds. How long do you think that would take, and what temperature to you set the smoker to?
    I do not cook them to the same temp. The breast is a lean meat. You want to pull it out at the lowest possible temperature that is still safe to eat. According to the USDA, that is 165. According to the very studies that led it to conclude 165, 150 or 155 is also fine as long as you hold it at or above that temperature for a few minutes (even as few as 5 or 10 will do).

    But the legs and thighs are tougher meats with more fat and connective tissue to break down. Those parts should go to at least 180. (By the way, helpful to pull the sinews out of the turkey leg beforehand.)

    Luckily, the breast is the largest part. Almost as though the bird was designed to be broken down with parts cooked separately.

    How long you cook it is a function of how much time you want to spend smoking versus roasting/searing. If you did nothing more than smoke at 225, you’d probably be done in about four hours. If you did nothing more than roast at 350, it’d be more like two.

    I did something in the middle last year, sticking in the breast and legs first to smoke at 225, then deboning and rolling up the thighs to stick in shortly thereafter (along with wings). About two hours after you put in the breasts to smoke, either crank the temperature to max or move to a hot oven to finish, pulling out each piece once it gets to the right temp. Three hours in all is probably more than enough time.
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  6. #126

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    Quote Originally Posted by All-American View Post
    I do not cook them to the same temp. The breast is a lean meat. You want to pull it out at the lowest possible temperature that is still safe to eat. According to the USDA, that is 165. According to the very studies that led it to conclude 165, 150 or 155 is also fine as long as you hold it at or above that temperature for a few minutes (even as few as 5 or 10 will do).

    But the legs and thighs are tougher meats with more fat and connective tissue to break down. Those parts should go to at least 180. (By the way, helpful to pull the sinews out of the turkey leg beforehand.)

    Luckily, the breast is the largest part. Almost as though the bird was designed to be broken down with parts cooked separately.

    How long you cook it is a function of how much time you want to spend smoking versus roasting/searing. If you did nothing more than smoke at 225, you’d probably be done in about four hours. If you did nothing more than roast at 350, it’d be more like two.

    I did something in the middle last year, sticking in the breast and legs first to smoke at 225, then deboning and rolling up the thighs to stick in shortly thereafter (along with wings). About two hours after you put in the breasts to smoke, either crank the temperature to max or move to a hot oven to finish, pulling out each piece once it gets to the right temp. Three hours in all is probably more than enough time.
    Thanks.

  7. #127

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    We had an extended family Thanksgiving shindig this past Saturday. There were a ton of kids there so I decided to do smoke some Disney-style turkey legs. I followed the recipe from Hey Grill Hey. I did 16 hen legs and 6 toms, smoking the latter twice as long as the former. They were a hit and gone within the first ten minutes, though few of the kids could finish. Definitely recommend at your next get together.

  8. #128

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    I thought I remember hearing the typical turkeys you see at the grocery story like Butterball have already been brined, so brining again is unnecessary. Is this right?

  9. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by jay santos View Post
    I thought I remember hearing the typical turkeys you see at the grocery story like Butterball have already been brined, so brining again is unnecessary. Is this right?
    Well, brining is never necessary.... It can make a huge difference though and improve the taste dramatically. It does with our Thanksgiving turkey.

  10. #130

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    If you get your turkey from your own CSA, with service so local that you almost know the turkey’s name, and you pick it up literally a day after it is killed, then you need to brine your turkey

  11. #131

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    Quote Originally Posted by Northwestcoug View Post
    If you get your turkey from your own CSA, with service so local that you almost know the turkey’s name, and you pick it up literally a day after it is killed, then you need to brine your turkey
    But is it local?

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  12. #132

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Student View Post
    But is it local?

    A little too close to home....

    But yeah, the turkey is legit local, roosting comfortably in a generously large fenced area 20 miles from my home. I’m not sure if it’s being fed local food though. Will confirm before next Thanksgiving.

  13. #133

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    Quote Originally Posted by jay santos View Post
    I thought I remember hearing the typical turkeys you see at the grocery story like Butterball have already been brined, so brining again is unnecessary. Is this right?
    Take a look at the label. The Butterball fresh turkey I bought from Costco this week says it contains up to 5% water. The turkey breast I bought for the smoker says it has up to 15% water/broth/seasoning. I assume most of the commercial birds you see in the store will have received similar treatment, which makes a wet brine unnecessary.
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  14. #134
    Senior Member Eddie's Avatar
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    My son and his wife are headed out of town to be with her family over Thanksgiving, so we had a turkey dinner last night with them.

    No brining - was planning to dry brine but I didn't get it to defrost quickly enough to do that, even.

    I separated the thighs and legs from the breast so I could pull them off separately and put everything on at 225. Pulled the breast off when it hit about 155 degrees. Did the FTC with that while waiting for the thighs and legs to finish - after watching Franklin smoke a whole turkey and foil it up with a lb of butter as it was finishing, I ended up putting a little butter in the foil as well for kicks.

    The turkey was awesome. Wife was worried the slow cook would dry it out - but it was as moist as any turkey I've ever cooked. Definitely will do that again.

  15. #135
    Senior Member BigFatMeanie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kccougar View Post
    Take a look at the label. The Butterball fresh turkey I bought from Costco this week says it contains up to 5% water. The turkey breast I bought for the smoker says it has up to 15% water/broth/seasoning. I assume most of the commercial birds you see in the store will have received similar treatment, which makes a wet brine unnecessary.
    Yes, but it still tastes even better and is even juicier with a wet brine, and it creates enough drippings for gravy. I've never been disappointed with brining my frozen mass-produced flavor-injected industrial bird.

  16. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigFatMeanie View Post
    Yes, but it still tastes even better and is even juicier with a wet brine, and it creates enough drippings for gravy. I've never been disappointed with brining my frozen mass-produced flavor-injected industrial bird.
    This. It is worth soaking your turkey overnight no matter what.

    Our brine involves the usual stuff (i.e. lots of course salt), but also adds some flavoring with a cinnamon stick, fresh sage, whole cloves, garlic, red onions, etc.

    It is delish!

  17. #137

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    doing thanksgiving with just the wife and kids at a buffet this year, but on friday we are having my MIL over for a small thanksgiving feast. i'm thinking of doing a turkey breast sous vide - anybody have experience with sous vide turkey?
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  18. #138
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    Cut it into parts again. The meat turned out great, but the skin on the breast didn’t crisp up like I hoped. I think you’re just working against yourself if you are smoking (which means lower temps) and cutting into pieces (which means smaller pieces and faster cooking time). It seems you need more time and hotter temps to get crispy skin than those steps will allow. Which is too bad because both steps make for tasty turkey.

    What did turn out was my experiment for the legs. I de-boned, pulled out the tough sinews with pliers, stuck the tenderloin in the middle, and rolled it up to make a roulade. Results were pretty sweet.

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  19. #139

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    That roulade looks delish.

    Re: skin, have you tried a pre-sear at 500* just to brown and crisp the skin? I do this on my whole turkey and it makes for crisp, tasty skin. Seems like it would work for the parts just as well.
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  20. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuthole View Post
    That roulade looks delish.

    Re: skin, have you tried a pre-sear at 500* just to brown and crisp the skin? I do this on my whole turkey and it makes for crisp, tasty skin. Seems like it would work for the parts just as well.
    That will be what I do on the next turkey I do. That, or pan-sear the breast at the end.
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  21. #141

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Student View Post
    Seeing Jay's post above makes me want to try sous vide but I don't want to have to cut the bird up beforehand. Anova says you can cook the entire turkey sous vide, so maybe we'll try it this T-day.

    They pour a bunch of chicken stock into the bag with the turkey, sous vide for 24 hours @ 150ºF, and then crispify in the oven.
    I chickened (turkied?) out and we roasted the turkey in an oven bag. I read up more on sous vide of whole turkeys and saw enough negative reviews that I decided not to risk it.

    It turned out great so I'm happy to stick with tradition.
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  22. #142

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Student View Post
    I chickened (turkied?) out and we roasted the turkey in an oven bag. I read up more on sous vide of whole turkeys and saw enough negative reviews that I decided not to risk it.

    It turned out great so I'm happy to stick with tradition.
    Lol. Nice work on the chicken/turkey line.

  23. #143

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    Quote Originally Posted by YOhio View Post
    Lol. Nice work on the chicken/turkey line.
    Thanks. Your praise means a lot.
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