Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 1

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===> NOTE ! If you do not read much of anything else, please 
read and pay attention to these tips, especially if this will be your
first brining experience !
===> And please make sure you pay close attention to "Buying 
The Right Bird" as covered by Bob Ballard and Fergy in Tips 14 and
17 below !
BRINING is Easy To Do, and Produces Incredible Results ! You will
be Very Happy this Holiday Season if you chose to brine your 
turkey or turkey breast first.
This FAQ has been compiled Thanks to some of America's Great
Pitmasters and Cooks - Such as "Fergy" Ferguson, Terry Light, 
Jim Minion, Dan Gill, Marlene Rausch, Kit Anderson, Randy 
Dewberry, Bob Ballard, Bruce Cook, William Maurer, Gary Wiviott,
and many others who helped contribute to making this as 
complete as it is.
Brining works whether you plan to cook your turkey in the oven,
or smoke it on a pit.
    Now, 17 Good Tips to keep in mind as your read this FAQ 
Be VERY CAREFUL on your salt solution.  Brining is VERY easy 
to do. But it DOES require that you follow the instructions 
detailed below.  You will almost ALWAYS have excellent results
if your Turkey is Under Brined (too little salt or too little time) 
but it MAY be almost uneatable if: 
     A) The brine solution includes too much salt,
     B) The brine solution does not contain enough sugar, 
     C) The turkey is left in the brine solution too long,
     D) The turkey is not washed THOROUGHLY afterwards before 
     E) You used any form of salt in a rub on your turkey after brining.
     F) You purchased a "processed" turkey (injected or soaked in a 
         solution which always contains salt).  (See TIPS 14 and 17 
     We might suggest you try the following:
     1) Make your (basic) Brine Solution up using:
        Slightly LESS salt than suggested, especially if this is your first 
        time to brine.
                 -  AND  -
     2) Use at least a HALF CUP of sugar.
     3) And of course, your spices.
Brown sugar is preferred by many.
===> Ed Pawlowski, known by many for his great Que, uses "SORGHUM
===> William Maurer likes 1/2 cup molasses and about 1/4 cup maple 
Also note that Instead of sugar or maple syrup, you can try sweetening
the brine with honey, or even caramelized sugar. (HINT: See Jim 
Minion's Honey Brine Turkey In CHAPTER 2 !)
(2) TIME IN BRINE SOLUTION - For Newbies Especially !
a) On your first attempt, you might want to leave your meat/poultry
in the brine solution on the lower end of the timetable described.
b) Members report using VARIOUS times in their brine solutions with
Great success.  From 12-16 hours, all the way to 24 hours +. You 
must experiment.
   Some people like Karl Mitschke like to soak the bird well in plain
   water for an hour after rinsing it off from the brine solution. 
   Carey Starzinger will soak his birds about SIX hours in clean water
   after brining before cooking.
    Brining MUST take place at 40 degrees or below. Please do 
    not try and cut corners on the proper temperature. Place your 
    turkey in the brine solution after it is Cool - not while it is still 
    warm.  Cool the brine solution with ice in plastic bags, if 
   You can use any of your favorite spices on your turkey after 
    brining.  Such as Paprika, pepper, and/or anything you like as
    spices go.  Just do not use any more salt.   (Soy sauce in the 
    mop would not be a good idea at all !).
   William Maurer suggests a neat idea:
   "I use Schilling salt-free Lemon Pepper seasoning (THE Secret
    to Success ?) and some garlic-garni (love garlic). I have tried
    some regular Lemon Pepper seasoning once, but that resulted
    in way too much salt flavor."
   Your choices are really varied.  Charlie Wood likes to rub his 
   birds with Lousianne Cajun spice. 
   Bruce Cook HIGHLY recommends the use of various crab boils
   and seafood seasonings to brines and/or as seasonings in 
   rubs.   Please see his second Recipe contribution, in 
   CHAPTER 6 - Recipes.  This one is the last recipe - Item "O".
   Also, to help you see the value of using a seafood seasoning,
   insure you see Gary Wiviott's neat article, in CHAPTER 10 - 
(5) "OFFSET COOKERS AND TURKEYS" - Jim Minion and Terry 
Jim Minion adds the following guidelines about offset smokers 
(in general), regarding smoking turkeys:
"Offset smokers move much more air than other style cookers 
and this can lead the dry, hard condition.
I find that turkeys do better in a Weber Kettle.
Terry Light, known for alot of wonderful Que, adds:
"Personally, I think the Weber Kettle is as good a cooker as you
can use for a turkey. Turkeys are tender and don't need "low & 
slow."   The Weber Kettle will hold temperatures perfectly for 
turkeys and you can get a lot of smoke to them also."
NOTE:  Also please read "OUR BEST "STUFFED" TURKEY EVER!" 
By Jason Creager in Recipe J of CHAPTER 6; and Terry's Light's"
Turkey Brining" In CHAPTER 6.
(6) "HANGING TURKEYS" Tip by Dan Gill
"If you have room in your smoker, try hanging them. I use a 
chrome choke collar for dogs. Cinch it around the legs and pass
the free end up through the chest cavity and out the neck. You
can either hang them 'leg down' or bring the chain along the 
back and tie it to the loop around the legs and hang them 
'breast down'."
(7) "TURKEY ON A THRONE" By William Maurer
One thing you BBQ'ers might think about is smoking (or 
roasting) the turkey "on a throne" or "up the butt" style using 
a wire rack.
In (6) <above> "HANGING TURKEYS" Tip by Dan Gill,"  Dan 
suggests using a dog collar chain to hang to turkey.
I use a wire rack inserted up the turkey's rear end (butt) and
set it upright in the smoker.  I think I get better smoke 
penetration that way (both inside and out).  Also the fat drains
out during the cooking process, leaving a cleaner and less 
messy bird when it's done.  Laying horizontal, the fat pools in 
the body cavity, which makes a mess when you pick up the 
bird to turn it (over) or to take it out of the smoker.
Another way to accomplish the same goal is to use a small 
commercial product called a "Throne."  This is a cone-shaped 
device which holds your bird in the correct orientation while it 
is cooking.
And, if you use a "Throne" instead of wiring the end of the bird,
your turkey will look great on it's "throne" when you bring it 
into the kitchen in front of your guests.
I found my "thrones," made by Faberware, at a upscale 
department store  here in California  (Gottschalks) and also at
an outlet mall. The "thrones" come in two sizes, turkey and 
chicken.  Prices for the thrones are approx. $10 or so each, and
maybe $18-20 for a pair.
I have also recently found these at a local 'Corning-Revere' 
factory store in our local outlet mall.  'Corning-Revere' has the 
two sizes of the thrones in stock.  The plain chicken-sized 
(small) ones cost approx $1-3 each, and the large turkey-sized,
non-stick coated Thrones are about $7.00 each.  They are made
in China for Corning-Revere.
A Throne might be able to be seen at: 

Fergy also feels as though this is an excellent tip if you have 
the available "height" in your smoker.  You'll need about 14-15
inches of vertical space or 'height.'
Many people use them. 
by Jim Minion
"By cooking the day before you will make easier on yourself and
you'll enjoy the day much more.
If you cook the day before, your turkey will still be moist.  
Reheat by carving the turkey first and place in a baking dish.  
Use a small amount of chicken broth or water and cover with
plastic wrap.
Put in a 180-200* oven until warm to temp you want.
You can use a drip pan.  If it is too salty, add a little sugar to cut
the salty flavor."
"If you find that the skin is turning black and don't want this 
condition, soak cheesecloth in vinegar and wrap the turkey.
Spray the turkey once an hour with water and oil solution. The 
turkey will come out golden brown.
If you wrap from the beginning of your smoking session, you can
put more smoke on and still get the color your looking for. Do it
from the point you are going to place it in the pit.
The above is a suggestion for those that like the lighter color."
Several other excellent pitmasters have also suggested this as 
a good idea.
(10) "THE PURPOSE OF BRINING" By Kit Anderson
"Brining does nothing for tenderizing. Fowl doesn't need 
tenderizing, anyway.  What it does is - concentrate the cellular
sodium. This causes the proteins to untangle and cross link, 
also known as coagulation or cooking. This raises the 
temperature that the cells breakdown at, so there is more 
moisture present when the final temp is reached.
If your poultry tastes too salty, your brine is too strong."
     325 Degrees !  Almost Universally agreed on.
     Internal Temp" Between 160 and 165.  Your choice.
     From thebbqshack: "It is better to cook the bird at a higher
heat for a shorter period of time. By doing so, the bird will cook
quicker and not have time to dry out in a low temp environment.
      WE AGREE ~!
1/4 Cup Melted margarine and 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire
sauce. Make up more when needed.
NOTE: You can NOT use SOY sauce after Brining.
Baste your turkey every 45 mins.
You can't beat this for getting a great Golden Skin !
Many/most memebers said they had great success starting with
the turkey/turkey breast down for about 2 hours, and finishing 
breast up. 


(14) =====> CHOOSING THE RIGHT !!! TURKEY By Bob Ballard
Bob Ballard is now using MINIMALLY processed birds for his 
brining and smoking.  He strongly feels that birds that have 
been "injected" by the processing houses may be the REAL culprit
behind brined poultry coming out too salty.
Bob goes on to say:  "The additives I'm referring to is the solution
they either inject or (I suspect) soak the birds in to enhance the 
flavor and make a more  moist bird.   If you notice most of the 
turkey wrappers state that a solution from 3% to as much as 12%
is added.  The minimally processed birds do not have this and are
much better."
SUGGESTION: Watch for this, and read the LABEL on the bird you
are going to purchase.
===> Also, see Tip 17 below.


(15) MORTON'S "TENDER QUICK" By Jim Minion
Tender Quick is by Morton, and is a CURING agent.  It can found 
many times in the canning department of the grocery store.  Also 
known as a form of saltpeter (sp).
IF you are going to cook poultry at lower temps, Tender Quick is
advised. The bird will be in that 40 to 140* range longer than is
Whether to use Tender Quick is a personal decision, and is really
based on WHAT TEMPERATURE you'll be cooking at.
225 to 275: Recommend you use Tender Quick.
300 to 350: You can omit a curing agent.
Salt (from the brine) works also, but not as well as a "curing 
agent." The whole thing rests on the issue of how long is the 
bird going to be the 40-140*. At the lower temperatures, you 
are taking chances on a healthy product.


     Many people put their bird FIRST into a pot and cover it with
water. They then measure how much water they needed to cover
the bird. They then have a good idea how much oil to use for 
frying (or brine solution to make up).
     If you are deep frying your bird, Fergy offers a valuable 
suggestion for this:
     If you are measuring for the proper amount of oil to use, the
water should come no closer than 3 inches from the top of the 
pot. This will keep you from having oil overflow your fryer cooker
     A better idea is listed below however:
     "Put the bird in your frying pot, add water and just cover the bird.
Remove the bird.  Then mark the water level on your pot. Mark 4 
inches DOWN from the water line mark, and fill to that level with your
cooking oil.
     Do this and you won't have any major spillage.
     By the way, Judge Dave adds this, if you do fry:
     "I filter my oil through food-grade cheese cloth and keep it 
refrigerated  between uses.  I am fortunate in having a small dorm 
size frig that I use just to  keep peanut oil in.  I started to sell the 
fridge a couple of years ago, but now I'm glad I held onto it."
     Fergy:  "I just filter my oil and put it in a container (another oil
container that's empty).  I store the oil in a cool dark inside cabinet."


(17) GENERAL * TIPS * By Fergy
* DO coat with oil before you start (holds spices better and keeps 
the skin from getting too dark). See tip 8 above.
* DO dry the skin well before you coat with oil (this allows the skin
to brown more evenly).
* DO check the temp to make sure its done!
* The juices from the turkey are good to inject back into them!
* DON'T buy an expensive bird.  The cheaper the better!  The 
expensive ones are the ones that are pre-injected and basted 
with salt in the solution. ===> See Tip 14 above, also.
* DON'T use the little pop up thermometer!  They don't 
always work right when smoking.  You most likely WILL cook your
bird if you rely on them !
* DON'T Get in a hurry. (Good advice for smoking any meat
any time!)
* DON'T stuff the bird you're smoking. Make your stuffing 
* Cajun spices have a tendency to blacken or get dark quick. 
The flavor is  great, but some people think the bird is burned.
If doing a "presentation,"  stay away from them.
Well, that's it for Introduction and Tips. Now let's go onto the 
'meat' of this  article.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays, Mikey


Up ] [ Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 1 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 2 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 3 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 4 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 5 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 6 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 7 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 8 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 9 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 10 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 11 ] Turkey Tips and Tricks! Chapter 12 ]

Friday, May 05, 2000
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