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lastJoe

Large turkey a bit overcooked, need temp advice for next time

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Thawed and brined a 20lb turkey. Put it on my Akorn yesterday morning. Had the heat deflector in, and let the temps get up above 300F. Put my drip pan with gravy veggies on the deflector and put the turkey on the grate. I've found that the dome thermometer on my Akorn is fairly close to my digital, but about 50F under, which makes sense as it's further away from the direct flame. So I started the bird at 350F on my probe, which was placed at the outer edge of the grate, which is close to direct heat as it was above the gap that is around the outside of the heat deflector. The dome was still under 300F, so after an hour or so I decided to open the vents a little to get the grate to the upper 300's, and the dome to 325-350. Held that pretty good for 2 more hours, and decided to check deep into the bird with my digital. Showed mid 170s in spots, and up as high as 182 in another spot. Nothing below 170. Also much drier than I expected, especially the white meat. No juices running out when I cut, like I had hoped. I had wanted to take it off at 160, so it could continue to rise to 165 off the heat, but totally missed that window. Was surprised to see it overdone, but I guess it's a simple matter of too high of a heat for that 3 hrs. At 325 it was to take around 4 hrs (20lbs). I'm thinking then I should've regulated the vents to keep the grate temp closer to 330-350, and the dome a bit under 300? Any other tips or similar experiences?

Have to give props to the Akorn, it is a stellar cooker and I'm getting more comfortable with it on ever cook. Now that I got the post on the ashpan in the holder under the charcoal grate it is very easy to control temps. Very predictable and could not blame this one on the cooker.

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A couple of things to recommend.  

 

First, never chase temps as you did.  You should know your cooker well enough to set the vents to get the temp that you want.  If you want to cook at 350°, then set your vents for 350° and leave them alone.  Just leave them alone.  That's right, don't mess with your vent settings.

 

Second, get yourself a good digital dual probe thermometer.  Turkeys, dead or alive, simply don't know how to tell time.  Cooking to time, not temp, is the best way to ruin a bunch of cooks.  There are threads all over this Forum discussing and recommending good digital thermometers.  It's all too easy to over cook when you're not very experienced.  Even experienced cooks miss the mark because every cook is different.  

 

I wish you well.  

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Thanks for the advice! I do have a decent dual probe, a Maverick 732. I guess the problem was I just didn't get it into the bird soon enough. I didn't really feel I was chasing temps, I knew the temp I wanted and hit it and held it pretty good. I just didn't choose the right temps to hit, was more the issue. I was really surprised it was done at 3hrs. But yes, should've had the probe in there from the start.


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I think for me, unless it's ribs, I have totally went away from anything but internal temp.  The meat is done when it's done.  I set the temp, leave it be, and go!

 

For me and Kamado cooking, I do not like my dome temp at all... get a good thermoworks gage to see what the temp is at the grate, get it stable, and start cooking.  Leave the thing alone, and once you hit your IT, you call it.  

 

I would say this this is my biggest learning over the last few months of being a new Kamado user.

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Thanks for that advice. I think for me, on this one, I was uncertain to follow my digital probe (which was the holding fingers about an inch above the cast iron grate, about 2" from the outer edge) or the dome temp. I think this taught me to follow the digital probe that's hovering above the grate, versus the unreliable dome temp. I had a 50F degree delta between my probe and dome, and had the grate temp up close to 400F most of the time, which should've been closer to 325F as I now learned. As in homebrewing, need to take good notes and keep a log until it's all second nature. Thanks again for the feedback.

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