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Carson McDavis

Christmas Turkey on the Classic 2 - How big?

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New to the KJ this year, my family bought it for me in October, but it's been a blast cooking on it so far. Now I've been elected to do the Christmas Turkey on it.

 

How large of a bird can I fit on the Classic 2? I was planning on smoking it whole, but after doing some homework I'm thinking spatchcock or rotisserie might be better? Can anyone share their experience/advice for a first time Turkey-er?

 

Also, are there any things to consider with winter cooking on the KJ? It's north-central Alberta so winter is winter and the temps Christmas Day could be -25C. I'd imaging this is a problem for cooks needing higher temperatures, but not low and slow?

 

Thanks in advance!

 

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Gday

Not sure what size as I haven’t cooked one and I have the big joe, going to have a crack at it this Christmas as well. I’m using the joetisserie, I watched one of Joe Setzlers videos of him doing a turkey, inject with butter etc so I’ll give that a go. You should find it with an easy search on the Kamado Joe site or google, good luck!

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Phenomenal profile photo.

 

I have done a couple turkeys recently on my joetisserie and both have been fantastic. Both were about 15 pounders, and I think thats the best overall size for a decent turkey. If i needed more, I would rather cook two 12-15 pound birds than one 20+ pound turkey.

 

My process:

Day before turkey day, open the bag up, take out the giblets, remove that dumb pop up thermometer thing, trim off anything thats flapping around around the neck and back end, and dry the bird thoroughly with paper towels. I then liberally season the entire bird with kosher salt, and put it on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and let it hang out in the fridge, I do this whenever I cook whole poultry, regardless of spatchcocking or whole bird, or even bone in thighs/legs/leg quarters etc.

 

I then get started on gravy. If you look back at my history here I've explained it pretty well. Short version, brown the salted giblets, anything you trimmed off, and a pack of TURKEY WINGS (not smoked wings, regular wings), add aromatic veggies and whatnot, cover with water and let that bad boy simmer for as long as practible to make a really rich, gelatin-y turkey stock. You wont really get drippings with the JT bird, so this is what you need to do for gravy, plus if you have extra stock you can make soup afterwards, smoked turkey soup....

Finish the gravy by making a flour/butter roux, and then add stock while whisking and it'll thicken up, add some chopped parsley and rejoice

 

TURKEY DAY:

I bank the coals in the back of my classic II, usually looking for larger pieces of lump to hold it all together, so it doesnt slide. I make a pretty compact set of coals, and use two firestarters to get it rolling. I aim for anywhere around 325-375 for this. I use a smaller piece of cherry, which i put on about 5ish minutes before turkey time to get some gentle smoke and color (the second photo is about 40 min in, and most of that color is smoke color, not necessarily browning)

I then wrap the non fire side of my X-rack with heavy duty foil, so any turkey grease hits that and rolls into the fire, as opposed to collecting in my ash tray, this isnt necessary, but it works for me (see photos). Just make sure your turkey clears the foil when spinning, check both directions too! If it hits, modify.

I make a butter slather for the skin, melt some butter, with a couple crushed garlic cloves, add a bit of oil so its a bit more liquidous, add rosemary, thyme, sage, pepper, garlic and onion powder, and make sure it smells like something you'd want to rub all over yourself. I rub it all over the turkey instead, since the turkey is cold once it comes out of the fridge the butter somewhat turns pasty, which helps spread it out. Get it everywhever on the outside, and if you can get some under the skin, do that too.

I truss the turkey using Alton Browns method (google it, its on youtube)

Then I stuff the cavity with some lemons, halved onions, rosemary, sage, some crushed garlic and thyme,

Then thread it on the rod. and CRUCIALLY, you need to get those forks on really tight, really push them home into the meat, and then lock those thumbscrews down with pliers. I can't stress this enough, really get those forks in there, more than you think. The meat will shrink, and then the forks will come out and the bird will roll around, thats bad. Spend time balancing that thing on there, it will be hard, and there will be cursing, but man, watching that spin without kicking is nice.

 

I spin mine, lid closed, at the temp above until it temps at 160-165 in the deepest part of the breast, and 170-175 in the thigh (mine take about 2hrs 15min), rest for about 25-30 uncovered and destring and carve. ENJOY

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no Joetisserie here, and I've done Christmas turkeys on our Akorn (and most recently Classic II) for several years now.

This year, we put a 23lb bird on the Classic II with no issues. No spatchcocking, etc.... just set him right on the grates and let it go.

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On 12/10/2018 at 6:40 PM, jrakutt said:

no Joetisserie here, and I've done Christmas turkeys on our Akorn (and most recently Classic II) for several years now.

This year, we put a 23lb bird on the Classic II with no issues. No spatchcocking, etc.... just set him right on the grates and let it go.

Hey jrakutt, what temp did you target in your turkey cook? And about how long did it take you to cook the 23lb bird? I am planning to do a 22lb next weekend. 

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I've got a white meat family, so I normally do breasts instead of whole birds. We are also not picky about crisp skin, so I smoke birds like a brisket. The skin is inedible, but the gentle cooking makes for meat that's as tender and juicy as it gets.  

 

But the real secret is brining. @KJTerp covers the dry brining process. Let me put some numbers on it. You need about 1 tsp. of salt per pound of meat, or about a half cup for a 24 lb. bird. You'll rinse most of it off before cooking, just as a wet brine leaves most of the salt in the water.

NOTE: this assumes you started with an untreated bird. If your bird has already had brine injected, do not dry brine or your bird will be over-salted. Very few commercial turkey breasts are untreated, so I don't normally do this. 

 

I've always wet brined my birds, a cup of salt, cup of sugar, half cup of peppercorns to start, then other additions as the spirit moves. Thanksgiving got rosemary and thyme.

 

The secret of wet brine, beyond uniform application of a range of flavors, is that wet brining works both ways. Fluid is free to move into the meat, or out of the meat. This movement is driven by the concentrations of salt and sugar in the brining fluid, compared with inside of the meat. Any additives in the meat will leech into the brine, which is just pure water and seasoning. Any salt added to the meat will still equilibrate to the salt level I set in the brine, so there's no danger of over-salting. And those other flavors get in there, too, at levels you will never notice, as it should be. 

 

Finally, one year we compared two birds, both brined, but one smoked, the other oven roasted.
No one could tell a difference in the meat. YMMV, but I still smoke them. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

Edited by fbov

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1 hour ago, Ardbeg Guy said:

Hey jrakutt, what temp did you target in your turkey cook? And about how long did it take you to cook the 23lb bird? I am planning to do a 22lb next weekend. 

I was around 350-375 and if I remember correctly it was roughly 3.5 hours to complete.

Every time I know that I'm surprised with how quickly the bird cooks, as for some reason I'm always expecting 5 hours or so.

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