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Old 06-18-2007, 08:47 PM   #1
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Here's Part I of my pictoral on how I smoke Turkey Legs (long, lots of pics)

Ok, this may take some time to load, so be patient.

Here's the subject of today's dinner:



Those Turkey Legs were brined overnight in 3 qt water and 6 T salt. This morning I removed them from the brine, dried them off, and rubbed them, then let the legs sit, uncovered, in the fridge to develop the "pellicle", or a sticky, tacky, coating, which helps the smoke adhere to the meat.

Here's fire-grate of my SFB, all cleaned out for max airflow:



And my cooking chamber, also cleaned out. You'll notice a foil pan below the cooking grate, acting as a drip pan.



Here's the charcoal chimney loaded and ready-to-go. For those of you that remember my last pictoral post on smoking, you'll remember that jug of starter fluid. Well, look hard at this pic. That's newspaper under the chimney! I'm kind of in a hurry to light this thing, as I'm hearing thunder in the background.



Here's the chimney all fired up. It could have gone another 10 minutes, but it's starting to rain a bit (notice the wet spots on the paint job). Also, at this time, I realized that I FORGOT to pull out the tray and get the chimney going "outside" the SFB, which is how I normally do this.



And here's my mixed load of lump and briquettes all laid out in the fire grate.



I had a bunch of small sticks that needed to be used, so I threw them on the charcoal as a "starter", to preheat the smoker. These sticks are a mix of dead-fall Oak and Hickory. Yes, they are actively burning. I'm trying to generate some BTU's to preheat my cooking chamber.



And here's a shot of my rain-soaked thermometer just after I closed the smoker up tight. It's hard to read, but, it's registering 75 degrees F, which just happens to be the air temp outside at this time. I'm thinking my thermometer is fairly accurate because of this. Of course, I haven't checked it with a more reliable thermometer, so I'm not totally sure.


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Old 06-18-2007, 09:06 PM   #2
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Part II

Ok, 20 minutes later, the thermometer is registering about 225 degrees F. Again, it's still rain-soaked. All that moisture evaporated out in the next hour, although I didn't get any more pics of the indicated temp.



Here's the legs on the cooking grate. Notice I've got them on the left side of the grill, as far away from direct radiant heat of the fire as I can.



And a shot of how little air I let into the SFB during cooking. This keeps the wood from actively burning, and just lets it smolder. When I open the top door of the SFB, it bursts into flame within 30 seconds, from the increased oxygen. But, once it's all closed, the flames quickly die down and it just smolders again.



Ok, all those smaller sticks have smoldered down and are now charcoal. Time for more wood.



Here's where the "log burner" bit comes here. These are two honest pieces of firewood. The one in front is Oak, and the back piece is Pecan. And, I learned something today. I don't need to mess with the intake at all. When I go to open the SFB to add wood, leave it open while I baste the meat with apple juice. Yes, I'm loosing all my hot air (is that possible????). This only takes a minute or two, but in that time, the wood I added has usually caught, although this pic doesn't show it. Just close the smoker up again, and it will smolder away for an hour or so without a temp drop on the thermometer.



Here's the legs at the 2 hour mark. I've already flipped them over. I added some wood at the 1 hour mark, two more logs, and one log at this 2 hour mark.



Here's the legs at the 4 hour point. I've added only ONE more log, at the 3 hour point. One of the logs that I added at the 1 hour point was big enough to smolder for 3 HOURS, with only additions of one more log each hour.



And here's my finished plate. I've ripped my leg open to show the pink ring on the meat. PeppA looked at hers a little oddly, but then, she always has looked at smoked turkey legs oddly. She's never really been into them, but I love them. However, she told me tonight that she liked these, and that I can do them more often. I'm thinking a 4 hour smoke was still to long, even though I brined the legs. Next time, I'll try a 3 hour smoke and see how that works.

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Old 06-18-2007, 09:25 PM   #3
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Good job, Allen. When will my turkey leg arrive in the mail?

Funny, we had turkey legs in the crockpot yesterday, done with plum sauce, soy sauce and sliced green onions. Really yummy.
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:04 PM   #4
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Oh wow! Thanks AllenOK, that makes a lot of sense.

So do you find that for long cooks (briskets or butts, etc.) that the log method over-smokes the meat?

That wood sure is puuurty. I am not sure what I can get here in Maine. Oak and apple should be relatively easy. Cherry might not be a problem either. I don't think I would be able to get my hands on any nut woods.

Where do you get your wood? I am not sure how to find a supply.

Thanks again, this is great info...
Sam
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:32 PM   #5
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Swinchen, just use whatever you have locally available to you. You should also have Maple in abundance, and maybe Hickory. I got lucky and found some major limbs that came down in a storm at a park just across the street from the golf course I work at. The Pecan I bought, $10.00 for a 2 cu. ft. bag (about 50 lbs.) of pecan. I'm sure if I ask around, I might be able to score some local Pecan cheap, or free, as long as I help the orchard owner remove the stuff (we have LOTS of pecan orchards around here). Of course, I need to go and get a chain saw.

You do have a point about over-smoking on long cooks. I cheat. 4 - 5 hours is about as long as I'm willing to smoke meat for. After that, if the piece still needs it, I'll wrap the meat in plastic wrap, then in foil, and bake it in the oven at 250 degrees F until done. For my Pork Butts, I usually smoke 5 hours, then give them 4 hours in the oven. This frees up some of my time, to do other things besides feed a fire.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:52 PM   #6
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Wow!!!!!! They look good, congrats.
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Old 06-19-2007, 01:25 PM   #7
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Old 06-24-2007, 01:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenOK
I'm thinking a 4 hour smoke was still to long, even though I brined the legs. Next time, I'll try a 3 hour smoke and see how that works.
I'd recommend using a probe thermometer with an alarm for poultry. Set the alarm for 3 degrees lower than your target temp (I forget what it is for dark meat).
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Old 06-25-2007, 10:31 AM   #9
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Unfortunately, I don't have one of those. I do have an instant read thermometer, and thought about using that. However, since BBQ is more about tenderizing tough cuts than about just cooking meat, I wanted the legs to tenderize and render the connective tissue somewhat. I think I might have taken the legs to far, past rendering the collagen into gelatine and dried the turkey out a bit. Next time I smoke turkey legs, I'll try a 3-hour smoke and see what the results are.
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Old 06-25-2007, 12:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenOK
Unfortunately, I don't have one of those. I do have an instant read thermometer, and thought about using that. However, since BBQ is more about tenderizing tough cuts than about just cooking meat,
See there's your problem right there. Turkey legs aren't tough cuts of meat and there ain't much there to render. Basically you're just cooking them in a smokey environment. Overcooked turkey is overcooked turkey, once you go past about 175 or so in the dark meat it'll just be too dry (probably better to target about 165). This ain't no pork butt.

I'd recommend spending the $25 on a probe thermometer but if you don't want to, at least check temp with your instant read every so often. If you do so and pull about 165, you can be guaranteed that it won't be too dry. Do it by time and you'll just be guessing.
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