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The Corner


Joined: 09/29/2013 Posts: 2160
Likes: 1067

Break out the WSM!

Doing an "experimental" bird is in play, right? Here's what I do, if you (or someone else) want to give it a shot. Long post follows.

Brine it overnight in salt water. Nothing but salt, enough salt to taste like the ocean, enough brine to cover the bird entirely. Make sure it stays cold.

In the morning, get your WSM fired up. Plan for a 5-6 hour smoke at 220F on a 14-ish# bird. If you miss on smoker temp, miss low. The goal is to minimize temp differential throughout the breast and minimize carryover. While it's warming up...

Pull the bird out of the brine and pat completely dry with paper towels, inside and out. Make sure you can see through the neck hole. Cut away any excess skin, bore it out a bit if you need to. Doesn't need to be a giant hole or anything, but enough to allow air and smoke through the cavity.

Mix up some chicken stock and butter, and inject as much as you can into all parts of the bird. Lather it up with a ton of soft butter, inside and out, over and under the skin. Then give it a salt and pepper rub, inside and out. Stick a thermometer probe in the coldest part of the breast. Bird's ready.

Note: do not tie the legs together or put anything in the cavity (other than butter and dry rub). Doing either of those things will mess up air and smoke flow through the cavity.

Also note: go nuts with flavoring the injection and rub if you don't want a 'traditional' type flavor. (Adding stuff to the brine won't accomplish much, so don't bother with that.)

Put an empty catch pan on the WSM's bottom grill and the bird on the top grill. Make sure you've got a good 4+ inches between the top edge of the pan and the top rack, else it'll mess up air/smoke flow around the bird. (IE, don't use a very deep pan, or if you do, put it in the water bowl so you've got a lot of clearance.) Close up the WSM. You've earned a beer.

Note: the bird's temp is going to boogie up to about 130-135F but the rise will massively decelerate at that point. It's not a real stall, like a brisket, but don't let the first hour or two fool you into thinking it's going to be done ahead of plan. The last few degrees can take a very, very, very long time.

Pull the bird when the breast is in the 150-155F range. There is a TON of time in this range, so very hard to miss it. But... white meat under 150F can be a mealy, textural problem, so be sure you take temp in a couple places. And white meat starts drying out rapidly over 160F, so if the coldest part gets over 155F, a lot of the breast is going to be north of 160F and varying degrees of dried out. Let the bird rest for *at least* a half hour, uncovered at room temp. Resting an hour or two isn't an issue, if you're done early. Grab a beer, turn on the game, watch the lady folk take pictures of the bird.

Note: the dark meat wants to run at least 10F hotter than the white meat, just by virtue of being smaller cuts. In my view dark meat is optimal at 165-170F, but is very good anywhere from 155-185F. It'll be more or less at optimal pull temp when the white meat's at pull temp (as long as you don't tie the legs up, etc.). That said, there is some risk that the white meat takes an ungodly long time to get to temp and the drums overcook, so if you hit 5 hours and think you have a very long time left, wrap the drums up.

Also note: a lot of liquid will have pooled in the cavity during the cook, so carefully pour into the catch pan (whether you want to save it for gravy, which the bird will not need but the potatoes might, or just to avoid burning the hell out of yourself).

Also also note: if you're worried about skin, check it at 150F or a degree or two lower. You can 'reverse sear' the skin by disassembling the WSM and setting the grill directly on the fire ring. Or throw it in the broiler. Or grab a torch. Just make sure it's off heat in the 150-155F range. FWIW, I find that just leaving it alone, the skin on top/sides will crisp, and the underside's rubber but nobody cares.

Related asides:

Cover the neck in your favorite rib rub and throw it on the smoker when you put the bird on. 2.5 hours later, about halfway, pull it off and pick it with a cold beer. If you share with family, expect to have to buy extra turkey necks going forward. Or you can pretend you'd read this far into this insanely long post but aren't into this sort of thing...

If you have time (you'd want to start this weekend), bacon cure some extra turkey legs. Use a salt-free rub (I just do black pepper). When you pull the neck(s), put on the legs. Pull them at 165-170F. Timing should work out so they're done when you pull the whole bird or when it's resting. Either way's fine, since the drums don't need to rest.

(In response to this post by chefhoo)

Posted: 11/20/2020 at 12:06PM


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Current Thread:
Thanksgiving recipes. -- chefhoo 11/19/2020 3:43PM
  Break out the WSM! -- 4thYear5th 11/20/2020 12:06PM
  Whats the wine selection this year? ** -- Zhoo 11/19/2020 10:00PM
  Thanks - will archive this time -- Trigon 11/19/2020 9:37PM
  How the hell are you gonna watch any football? ** -- HOOGATORB 11/19/2020 5:51PM
  Will you marry me? ** -- Skeets 11/19/2020 5:35PM
  Going to ask you this about -- Zhoo 11/19/2020 4:56PM
  Don’t eat this....... -- TomasHoo 11/19/2020 11:38PM
  Jerry Jones has a huge yacht -- TomasHoo 11/19/2020 11:44PM
  Here's one from a couple of years ago.** -- chefhoo 11/19/2020 6:39PM
  I think you should make a trip to Chicago -- Zhoo 11/20/2020 12:01PM
  Oh yeah - I tend to agree with him.... -- Zhoo 11/20/2020 12:00PM
  Agreed! ** -- chefhoo 11/20/2020 12:13PM
  Speaking of skin..... -- Zhoo 11/20/2020 1:02PM
  They are properly outfitted! -- Trigon 11/19/2020 9:20PM
  Was a cool pic anyway! ** -- GtownHoo 11/19/2020 6:44PM
  Question about the half finger on the stuffing -- Chesapeake HOO 11/19/2020 4:41PM
  Ha ha. Half inch to one inch cubes. ** -- chefhoo 11/19/2020 6:08PM
  Last year I emailed the link for this to my wife -- Hoo Phan 11/19/2020 4:19PM
  You're welcome!!! ** -- chefhoo 11/19/2020 6:08PM

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