Turkey Turkey Idea:
It sounds strange.
“You did what to your turkey?”
I spatchcocked it.
Originally “spattlecocking,” spatchcocking seems all the rage this year.
Martha Stewart has done it. So have celebrity cooks Tyler Florence, Alton Brown and Mark Bittman.
This month’s edition of Bon Appétit features a spatchcocked turkey on the cover. Although not a new method, I think it’s the obscure name that makes it so alluring.
From what I could find, spatchcocking is an English term dating to 1775. Originally applied to eel, the word started as slang for “butterflying” —similar to “French split.”
The dictionary defines the noun as “a fowl that has been dressed and split open for grilling” and as a verb: “to prepare the roast in this manner.”
Simply put, it means removing the backbone and breaking the breastbone.
I had one reservation: Would my 18-pound turkey — after spatchcocking — fit in the roasting pan? Luckily it did. A little snug, but it fit.
I used a half-sheet pan. But the broiler pan that comes with your oven should work just as well. I’m not sure what would happen with a larger turkey.
For this procedure, you’ll need sharp poultry shears. Sharp knives will work as well, but that gets a little dangerous.
It’s a little bit of a challenge the first time you try this. But you’ll find it the most timesaving method for cooking any bird. You might want to practice on a chicken.
This method produces much juicier meat and crispier skin. By far, it yielded the easiest turkey I’ve ever carved.
If you have an independent grocery store, the butcher might be able to “spatchcock” the turkey for you. I’ve learned that chain stores unfortunately can’t provide this service because of health regulations.
A 13- to 18-pound turkey*
1 cup of melted butter
Sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and save them for making the gravy and broth. Rinse the turkey out and pat it dry. Bring the bird to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter for an hour or two.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Have the turkey on its side. At the tail end of the bird, with the breast side down, cut along the backbone, holding it in place at the other end. Once you have the first side cut, the second side will be easier. Remove the backbone (and keep for broth) and lay the turkey out flat — breast side up. With both hands, press down hard and you’ll hear the breastbone break. You’ll want to flatten the carcass as much as you can.
Place some thyme in the roasting pan and then put the turkey on the thyme. Slather the bird with the melted butter and put the remaining thyme under the wings and legs and season well with salt and pepper.
Place the turkey in the oven and roast for one to 1-1/2 hours, depending on the size of your bird. If you’re cooking a 12-pound turkey, it will take approximately one hour. A 17-pound turkey takes 90 minutes. To test for doneness, check the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh. It should reach 165° F.
When the turkey is done, cover with foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
*If you are cooking a free-range organic turkey you may want to brine it first for 12 to 24 hours.
Another method would be to cover it for the first 30 minutes of roasting with cheesecloth soaked in a butter and water mixture. These birds are much leaner than the processed turkeys, such as Shady Brook or Butterball.
How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey
Thawing a whole turkey in the refrigerator is recommended. If short on time, you may thaw the turkey in cold water in the original packaging, making sure the water is changed every 30 minutes to keep the turkey surface cold.
Thaw turkey in unopened packaging in a pan in the refrigerator.
Allow 4 hours per pound to thaw.
Time 8 to 12 pounds:
2 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds:
3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds:
4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds:
5 to 6 days
Cold Water Thawing:
Leave turkey in unopened packaging. Cover completely with cold water.
Change water every 30 minutes to keep turkey surface cold.
Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw.
Cold Water Turkey Thawing Time
8 to 12 pounds:
4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds:
6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds:
8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds:
10 to 12 hours
Do not stuff your turkey. Brush the skin with vegetable oil and insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into lower thigh. Set the smoker to 225° F. Place the turkey on a cooking rack and cook for 8 to 12 hours or until the inner thigh temperature reaches 180° F. Check the temperature of your turkey after 3½ hours
Honey-Brined Smoked Turkey (05:41)
Total Time: 4 hr 28 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive: 13 min
Cook: 4 hr
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
1 gallon hot water
1 pound kosher salt
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 pound honey
1 (7-pound) bag of ice
1 (15 to 20-pound) turkey, with giblets removed
Vegetable oil, for rubbing turkey
Combine the hot water and the salt in a 54-quart cooler. Stir until the salt dissolves. Stir in the vegetable broth and the honey. Add the ice and stir. Place the turkey in the brine, breast side up, and cover with cooler lid.. Brine overnight, up to 12 hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine and dry thoroughly. Rub the bird thoroughly with the vegetable oil.
Heat the grill to 400 degrees F.
Using a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil, build a smoke bomb. Place a cup of hickory wood chips in the center of the foil and gather up the edges, making a small pouch. Leave the pouch open at the top. Set this directly on the charcoal or on the metal bar over the gas flame. Set the turkey over indirect heat, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat, and set the alarm for 160 degrees F. Close the lid and cook for 1 hour.
After 1 hour check the bird; if the skin is golden brown, cover with aluminum foil and continue cooking. Also, after 1 hour, replace wood chips with second cup.
Once the bird reaches 160 degrees F, remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 1 hour. Carve and serve.
We Deliver All Natural Meats & Organic Vegetables to Your Home. Serving the Mid-Atlantic Region of MD, DE, DC, VA, PA.
Absolutely Chemical FREE!
No Steroids - No Growth Hormones - No Antibiotics
Heartland Foods provides families with all natural, top quality food items - fully aged grass fed Black Angus Beef, Mid-Western select Pork, Cage Free lean Poultry, Wild Caught Seafood, 100% USDA certified Organic Vegetables, as well as a full selection of custom cut gourmet items.
Every item we sell is unconditionally guaranteed. Combined with free delivery, Heartland Foods is much like having an all natural grocery store delivered right to your home.
Recommended by physicians, chiropractors, personal trainers, dietitians, nutritionists, and other health professionals.