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Thread: How much charcoal?

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    How much charcoal?

    I am planning to smoke a 12 pound turkey for 16 hours in my 18" WSM at 220 degrees. The smoker is equipped with an automatic temperature controller and I will be burning Weber charcoal briquettes with a few chunks of oak thrown in. How much cold charcoal do you think I will need? How much hot charcoal should I start in a chimney? This is my first post.

    Christopher (in Virginia)

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    If you're cooking it 16 hours, fill the ring level with the top, take 15-20 coals from the center, and light. 16 hours is pushing the limit for me, but then I cook at 250 or higher. Good luck!
    Lew
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    TVWBB Pro Lynn Dollar's Avatar
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    Why so long ?

    I can't see what is to be gained, since turkey does not have a lot of fat and collagen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn Dollar View Post
    Why so long ?

    I can't see what is to be gained, since turkey does not have a lot of fat and collagen.
    The recipe I'm using is "Worth-the-Wait Turkey" from the book, "Smoke and Spice" by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. They recommend a temperature of 200 to 220 degrees and a cooking time of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours per pound of turkey.

    Christopher

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    TVWBB Platinum Member Dustin Dorsey's Avatar
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    Christopher, the conventional wisdom is to cook turkey hot and fast to get crispy skin. I am however super intrigued by your method so keep us posted on how this turns out. I enjoy a nice low and slow cook. I'd fill the ring and maybe even mound it up a bit . Basically, Lew's advice is spot on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dustin Dorsey View Post
    Christopher, the conventional wisdom is to cook turkey hot and fast to get crispy skin. I am however super intrigued by your method so keep us posted on how this turns out. I enjoy a nice low and slow cook. I'd fill the ring and maybe even mound it up a bit . Basically, Lew's advice is spot on.
    A BBQ Tip from the same cookbook, page 172, " You should seldom remove the skin from chickens or other birds before barbecuing them. The skin keeps the meat moist and its fat acts as a natural basting agent. When there is skin on only a portion of the meat, as with a chicken breast, place that side up in your smoker. We remove the skin before serving just as we trim any remaining layers of fat from other barbecue meats. It doesn't crisp up as it would with high-heat grilling and is generally a little over-smoked for most peoples taste. The one exception we've found is when chicken is cooked in a Big Green Egg or other kamado smoker, which produces poultry with moist meat and crackling crisp skin."

    Christopher

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    I've done low and slow on turkey with good results. I learned that the bird tastes the same with hot and fast and uses much less energy; both the heat energy and my energy.

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    TVWBB Hall of Fame timothy's Avatar
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    I had that book and tried that turkey recipe and it is definitely worth the wait. That's a true smoked turkey, so juicy and tender and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
    I had an ECB and an old offset back then so my charcoal use was prolly double or triple compared to using a WSM.
    Lew's advice is solid, but I have no experience using an ATC, so no help there.
    Using Oak? Nice, I never tried it on a turkey, so looking forward to your review.

    OBTW. Welcome to the Forum!

    Tim
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    Quote Originally Posted by timothy View Post
    I had that book and tried that turkey recipe and it is definitely worth the wait. That's a true smoked turkey, so juicy and tender and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
    I had an ECB and an old offset back then so my charcoal use was prolly double or triple compared to using a WSM.
    Lew's advice is solid, but I have no experience using an ATC, so no help there.
    Using Oak? Nice, I never tried it on a turkey, so looking forward to your review.

    OBTW. Welcome to the Forum!

    Tim
    The turkey turned out well but I sure started smoking too early. I started at 9 p.m. Wednesday and the 13.6 pound turkey was pretty much cooked by 8 a.m. Thursday. I just held the smoker at about 200 degrees for the next 6 hours until 3 p.m. when dinner was scheduled. At 200 degrees in the smoker the temperature of the meat remained stable. Everyone said it was great tasting turkey.

    The charcoal grate was filled to capacity at the beginning and I had about a gallon of Weber briquettes left over after the smoking for 18 hours. There was a aluminum pie pan containing water on the lower grate above a sand-filled bowl covered with aluminum foil. One thing that surprised me was that the turkey legs were cooked before the breast was cooked while everything I had read said the breast would be finished first. The bird was on the upper grate with the breast side down as recommended by the cookbook. I guess the legs cooked first because they were sticking up and closer to the lid of the smoker where the temperature was higher than the temperature at grate level. Next time I will plan on smoking a turkey at 220 degrees for one hour per pound of turkey even if it means I have to start smoking the turkey at 2 a.m.

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