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First Low-And-Slow Cook on Akorn Jr a Success!

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Alright, I'm back after my first low-and-slow cook today to report on how it went. Firstly, thanks for the advice, guys. It got me through a couple of dark moments on this cook.


First, let's introduce the star of this cook, a 3 lb butterball boneless turkey breast. I considered bone-in, but opted for the boneless as every bit of space counts in my little akorn jr... and to be honest, it's all I could find. After thawing the turkey breast out in the fridge, I  brined it overnight in a mixture of salt, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, half an apple, half an onion, 5 or so cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh sage. In the morning, I got my akorn jr going by filling the fuel chamber to the tabs with royal oak hardwood lump, then lit a fire starter in the middle, and off we went toward my first dark moment of the cook...


I left the lid open and let the starter get burning just a bit (WAY) too hot. Upon closing the lid, I got a LOT of smoke. I became self-conscious. Very self-conscious. I felt like I was smoking my neighbors in condos around me out (because I was). I felt like even though I knew it wasn't dangerous and just annoying, people would think I was being reckless. I didn't know if this amount of smoke was normal since it was my first low-and-slow cook, and I had never been around anyone else doing it. But something about the amount of smoke coming out of the vent and smoke even streaming out from the seal around the lip of the lid didn't seem right. Ha! But I didn't know what to do, so I just shut both vents and paced in my house nervously for a bit.


I thought about quitting. Not just this venture, but smoking low-and-slow altogether. I had accepted that this is just how much smoke a low-and-slow smoking venture created, and even though it's been a new-found love that I've spent hours reading about and preparing for with my high-and-fast grilling on the Akorn Jr, adjusting the knobs, practicing with my smoking stone as a heat displacer, it had become clear to me the proximity of my patio to other units around simply meant my smoking days were over. I'd have to go camping to use my smoker I decided.


BUT NO!!!! That burning, or should I say, smoking voice inside of me smoldered on. You've got it wrong! There's no way that much smoke is right. So I went back and checked the advice I had received on kamadoguru.com and a couple of things became clear. A) I was letting way too much air in from my bottom intake vent (open a couple of inches), which was sure to be the cause of smoke having nowhere to go but out every possible crack. And b) I was being a chicken.


So I took a deep breath, opened my bottom vent just BARELY, then, as I had already been instructed to do by tips in previous posts, I opened my top vent just barely and already the amount of smoke was better. It was enough to see the white, but so little that dissipated almost immediately, and I was able to keep my patio door open.


After adding my smoking stone and grill in, I added the turkey on a pan, closed the lid and paced nervously for 30 minutes while the temperature hung around 125, 150... I had stifled it too much! Dark moment number 2... But I decided, give it a tiny bit of air to come up and be patient. After 30 minutes I had it staying comfortably around 250-275, so I set a 2.5 hour timer and took it easy. After an hour and a half I checked the internal temperature of the middle of the breast, and was surprised to find it creeping up to 180. For a minute the smoker temperature had creeped up to the 300 range before I brought it down a tiny bit, so I'm guessing that is the reason it cooked faster than I expected.


I took the turkey breast out and left it to rest for 30 minutes wrapped in aluminum, before cutting it. Even with being slightly overcooked and having a *tiny* bit of that stickiness between my teeth when I clenched down on it, it is juicy and divine! Definitely the best thing I've ever cooked. The brine really did its job, as it is definitely flavorful and just the right amount of salty. I'm really excited to do 4 of these guys (2 at a time) for thanksgiving this year, and very glad I did a test run. I'll practice a couple of low-and-slow salmon cooks before then to expedite the temperature lock-in, but will definitely shoot more for the 1.5 - 2 hr time to check for removing them so that I can get them out just before 165.


One thing is for certain, I'm never buying turkey sandwich meat again. This is way cheaper and better than even the most expensive stuff I get at the deli. Big fan!




Turkey Uncut.jpg

Edited by daveythesaint
I had some ambiguous temperature references.
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11 minutes ago, daveythesaint said:

Yes! Definitely a good learning experience.


I'm considering trying a rub or honey glaze on a couple of them on thanksgiving. Any thoughts or tips in that department?


No real “field” experience in this exact area..... but just be careful with sugars and temps in general. Sugars can easily scorch if your temp gets away from you. 

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Congratulations on keeping the faith and ending up with a win.  As far as next time, you might consider a honey glaze of some sort for the finish, but it would only be on the outside (and look good, granted) when what you really want is all the flavor on the inside.  Your brining is the first step.  One of my favorite brines is margarita mix.

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Also, if you want to make life easier for yourself, get a thermometer with a probe you can leave in. Then you don't have to guess when to pull the breast. Something like the Thermoworks Smoke or Maverick ET-733.


edit: I use my maverick, but still test with a thermapen as I have been known to place the probes wrong on the Maverick. It just helps me know when to check.

Edited by AntinOz
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