Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: Smoke-Cooking Turkeys & Pheasants. . . . From: Al,
Subject: Re: Turkeys & Pheasants
Love your website. I really want to smoke a turkey and pheasant but have no idea how to prepare them for smoking. Are they brined like fish or what. Any information you could supply would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for the the great site.
Thanks for the kind words. I hope that you have read "According to Smoky" and, if you have, will better understand my frustration with folks throwing "smoking" loosely around.
But, until we all apply the same meaning to words, I have to ask you, "Do really want to smoke turkeys and pheasants or do you want to cook them in a smoky atmosphere?"
And, if you really want to smoke them, do you want to cure them and cold smoke them or cure them and hot smoke them or do you just want hot smoke them.
Maybe the best way for you to answer those questions is to think about what your intentions are toward the poultry. If you intend to eat it or refrigerate it, hot smoking (170-190*F) with no cure, only seasoning, is by far the easiest and delivers a tasty, tender, juicy finished product.
Curing will take about 1 1/4 days per pound for 14-20 lb turkeys, after which, they may be cold smoked at 70-90°F for 2-3 days or hot smoked in 24 hours.
Most often, I season well with salt and pepper and hot smoke over green hickory and apple for 24-36 hours - until internal temp at thickest part of thigh reaches 165°F. Safer and almost as good is to go ahead and cook the birds in smoke at 210°F (+/-10°F) for about 30 minutes per pound. Either will deliver a tender, tasty bird.
I say safer because, in smoking large turkeys, you are racing just to stay ahead of the bacteria. If you stumble, start out with a borderline bird, forget to maintain the heat, don't reach the proper internal temp., the bacteria will win the race. And the loser gets to eat foul fowl. I speak from experience. "It was a cold and stormy day...."
Smoking pheasant is equally risky. Birds whose intestinal tract was penetrated by pellets are primed for a big bacterial bloom when they reach room temp. My advice to you is to cook the little dainties at about 210°F in smoke with a good baste with oil.
If, on the other hand, you really want to cure and smoke, let me know and I'll give you all the gory details.