September 29, 2023


Food Information

Thanksgiving Q&A – Be taught to Smoke Meat with Jeff Phillips

18 min read

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

I acquired a whole lot of questions and after spending hours grouping related ones collectively into classes, I’ve answered as many as potential. I’ll proceed so as to add to this FAQ so hold checking again for extra.

As a result of it is a enormous doc, I’ve included bounce hyperlinks under 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 all the pieces they prepare dinner within the pellet smoker will get executed sooner because of the air motion from the fan however I’ve not seen something actual important 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 executed 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 executed an hour early, you may have a few choices:

  1. you’ll be able to FTC* the chook
  2. You may flip the pellet smoker all the way 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 responsibility foil, wrap it in a thick towel, then place it in a cooler. I take it additional by filling in any remaining house 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 instances.

Be aware: it’s necessary to verify the thermometer in your smoker is working appropriately. Earlier than doing an necessary prepare 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 reduce it in half, can I refreeze one half for later use?

This is dependent upon the way you thaw it out.

In case you thaw the turkey within the fridge all the time and the turkey doesn’t spend greater than 2 hours out of the fridge at any time, you’ll be able to 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 value it to do? What was the recipe?

I’ve used buttermilk in my brines many instances and I undoubtedly 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 might be brining and it additionally provides the meat a extremely wealthy taste. The salt within the brine, after all, helps the meat to retain extra of its juice throughout the prepare dinner.

My fundamental 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 provide the salt time to dissolve into the liquid.

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

Right here’s extra turkey brine recipes

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

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

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

Go forward and brine it even when it’s 8-12% resolution added and I’m telling you, it’ll find yourself lots higher than it might have in any other case.

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

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

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

You can use an ice chest or a 5-gallon water cooler (the one with the tap on the aspect) 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 might 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 under 40°F (4°C) for all the time to ensure that it to be fit for human consumption.

Brining exterior of the fridge requires some pre-planning and further creativity however it may be executed correctly and safely for those who’re cautious.

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

I feel it’s a grand thought! Merely reduce alongside each side of the spine then open it up like a e-book. Many individuals prepare dinner the turkey similar to that. If you wish to take it additional and prepare dinner the turkey in halves, you’ll be able to separate the turkey on the breast bone to create (2) halves.

This additionally makes it simpler to brine and offers you rather more manageable items to prepare dinner.

If you’re utilizing a extremely small smoker, that is the easiest way to make the turkey match.

Are you able to advocate a very good turkey rub?

You may, after all, use an equal mixture of salt and pepper or you should 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 all the pieces 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’re going to 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 form concerned.

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

With complete birds, 12 lbs appears to be the really useful measurement to make sure they get executed safely within the low and sluggish atmosphere. Since spatchcocked turkeys prepare dinner sooner, what’s the really useful measurement. Ought to I prepare dinner a big one or is it nonetheless finest to prepare dinner (2) smaller ones?

Spatchcocked birds undoubtedly prepare dinner sooner and extra evenly than complete birds so, whereas I haven’t seen a really useful measurement for this, I might say it’s lots safer to prepare 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 in my view.

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

Extra birds additionally provides 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 plenty 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 can be within the 12 lb vary they usually sometimes get executed 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’ll be able to prepare dinner at the next temperature or reduce out the spine (spatchcock) to make the turkey prepare dinner sooner and extra evenly.

Right here’s a recipe for the best way to reduce out the spine (spatchcock) and smoke it that means. There’s additionally a video on the backside of that web page for those who’d somewhat watch it being executed.

One other a part of this equation is that if it’s being cooked on a pellet smoker, it’s actual simple to simply prepare dinner it at a lot greater temperatures for those who’d somewhat hold it complete.

Pellet people who smoke don’t put out plenty 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 begin 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 entire period of time utilizing two completely different temps? (After all, I’ll prepare dinner it to 163 inner, 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 just a little 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 based mostly on expertise.

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

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

As with most issues, pad the timing and if it will get executed 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 entire time it takes to prepare dinner?

The warmth is affecting all the meat within the smoker without delay so it doesn’t change the cooking time dramatically however you do want to permit for just a little 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 have a smaller smoker and it’s packed filled 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 enable an additional 30-45 minutes for every turkey so long as the airflow isn’t drastically restricted.

When you have a extremely giant offset smoker, it’s possible you’ll not want so as to add any time in any respect.

When you have plenty of meals to smoke and never plenty of smoker room, take into account spatchcocking the turkeys which can assist lots. You may also reduce 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 prepare dinner a number of 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 sluggish temps, turkey pores and skin finally ends up lower than crisp.

Exterior of frying the turkey or cooking it all the time at actually excessive temperatures, the pores and skin isn’t 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 surface of the turkey as dry as you will 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 wager.

    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. Cook dinner at the next warmth. In case you occur to be utilizing a smoker that may deal with greater warmth similar to 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 provide it smoke for a few hours at low and sluggish then transfer it to the oven at 350°F (177°C) to complete.

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

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

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

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

The recipe in my e-book 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 sizzling oil.

Warning: comply with the turkey fryer producers directions very rigorously 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 e-book 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 complete turkey, as soon as it’s executed cooking and rested, I prefer 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 giant piece then slice that up somewhat than slicing it from the carcass.

Place all of that meat right into a foil pan and for those who occur to have saved a number of the juices (hopefully) you’ll be able to pour that excessive of the turkey.

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

To reheat, go away 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 depend upon how a lot meat is within the pan.

In case you wouldn’t have any drippings, you’ll be able to pour a cup or two of hen inventory/broth over the turkey.

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

The much less reheating you do, the much less probability it must dry out. With the foil excessive and the drippings/broth within the pan, it ought to retain it’s moisture and be an incredible meal.

I’ve executed this many instances with nice success.

You may also go away it complete and reheat it that means if presentation is an enormous issue.. typically 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 executed cooking. Pour any drippings you may have into the underside of the pan and/or a few cup of hen 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 depend upon how a lot meat is within the pan.

Test the interior temperature of the turkey utilizing a meat thermometer and as soon as it reaches a very good consuming temperature or about 120°F (49°C), carve and eat.

I bought a kind 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 have to be just a little experimental for those who’re wanting some smoke taste on it.

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

I’m anxious it might dry out for those who reheated it open for all the time. I assume an possibility could be to smoke it in your Traeger’s lowest setting for optimum smoke for about half-hour then cowl it up and comply with the directions as said or till it reaches an inner temperature of 150°F (66°C).

half-hour is fairly protected.. 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 then end the chook within the oven?

You may’t prepare dinner the turkey in (2) completely different phases until it’s again to again (no journey time, wait time, and so forth.).

As an example, you would smoke the turkey for two hours after which transfer it to the oven at 350°F (177°C) however you’ll be able to’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 by which micro organism grows actually quick. It’s essential to get the turkey via and past this zone as shortly as potential for it to be protected.

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

The higher possibility is to prepare dinner the turkey all the best way, then use one of many following choices:

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

I’ve acquired 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 constantly for cooking turkey outdoor in a smoker. There are too many variables similar to 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 prepare dinner, will get executed in about 6-ish hours at 240°F (116°C) for those who prepare dinner it complete or about 4 hours for those who spatchcock it. If you wish to get it executed sooner than that, you’ll be able to definitely flip up the warmth.

After all, as I’ve mentioned many instances, for those who want greater than 12 lbs of turkey, prepare dinner a 2nd turkey of the identical measurement. Leftovers anybody?

I wish to prepare dinner a 14 lb turkey and double smoke a ham collectively. How do I ensure all the pieces will get executed on the identical time?

The turkey goes to take roughly 7.5 hours or so. The hams are often heated via 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 all the pieces will get executed at about 3:30 PM.

The ham could be very versatile so it might simply go just a little longer or might even have the ability to be executed barely sooner if the turkey occurs to complete early.

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

I don’t sometimes do that nevertheless it’s simple to do. I like to recommend holding your smoker at round 250°F (121°C) for about 45 minutes or till the stuffing/dressing is finished via. In case you want it browned on high, 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 probably be cooking it over a mattress of oak coals in what will probably be in all probability 30’ climate, with understanding that, would you advocate 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 really like elk so that will undoubtedly be my first selection. I don’t do plenty of wild recreation however what I’ve executed has benefited drastically from loads of bacon and butter and a very good 24 hour soak in buttermilk.

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

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

Some folks smoke the dressing/stuffing however for those who’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 plenty of smoked aspect recipes if you wish to browse.

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

There’s nothing flawed with going non-traditional for Thanksgiving and smoked pork ribs are an important various!

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 record of favourite smoked pork ribs

Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!

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Be aware: You may also order the formulation for my rubs and sauce and make these your self at residence. Seize these HERE and obtain instantly.

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