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Oct 18, 2011 07:03 AM

Smoking a turkey

We are smoking a turkey this weekend. Is there any advantages to either brining it or marinating it?

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  1. My husband just smoked one last weekend, and he dry-brined it.

    1. Flavor and/or texture. I do parts more often than the whole bird and given the long smoking times necessary you run the risk of losing moisture. A Kosher bird or one you brine yourself will keep the meat moister through the smoking process.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ferret

        I do find brining gives the bird more flavor and helps it keep moisture as the breast will cook more quickly than the dark meat and can dry out. however, when I brine it I also remove it and airdry it for several hours, which assures that the skin will crisp nicely during the long slow cooking.

      2. It depends on the turkey. A lot of the supermarket brands are injected with a salt solution during processing, you don't want to brine those. Kosher birds are also processed with salt and don't need to be brined. If your turkey hasn't been processed in either of those ways a brine would probably be beneficial.

        1. We usually wet brine, but have smoked a turkey before without it with good results, too. I think brining adds a little something, and is a bit of insurance against the meat drying out. But our dry-rubbed turkey was really good, too - the only reason we didn't brine it was that it was a really big turkey, and the only thing big enough to hold it, and the brine comfortably was our cooler, which was in use already.

          1. When I make barbecued turkey,* I use a dry rub that is placed on the bird overnight. Brining before the rub had no effect on the result the one time I tried it, so I never did it again. It's basically redundant and risks a too salty turkey when finished. I have never had problems with uneven cooking between the white and dark meat as this can be avoided through the positioning of the bird.

            *It appears that this is what the OP and the others are referring too as opposed to other "smoking" techiniques.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MGZ

              Thank you so much to all who replied to my question. I think we will forgo the brining. We have to thaw the bird at home - and take the smoker and turkey with us to an other location for the smoking. It is a 16 pound turkey - and I just took it out of the freezer this morning (Tuesday) - I feel it will be thawed out by Friday for transporting in a cooler - and smoking on Saturday.