Saturday, November 13, 2021

Spatchcocked Turkey


A turkey is an enormous bird with enormous organs. Once those organs are removed, we are left with an enormous bird with an enormous cavity. Essentially a basketball with white meat on the top and sides and dark meat on the bottom...which just so happen to cook differently from each other.

I have used three different methods to solve this problem. The first involved starting the cook with the bird upside down. While it worked, getting a piping hot, 24-pound turkey to perform a somersault inside a blazing oven is a gigantic hassle. I also used a cooking bag, which resulted in perfectly cooked and incredibly moist meat. But alas, there was no golden, crisp skin that is the reward for roasting.

The method I've used the most is to preheat a gigantic cast iron pan in the oven. Then I set the bird right on the pan. The dark meat is in contact with the cast iron, which heats it more quickly while the white meat enjoys a leisurely roast. This method requires an expensive, oversized pan that only gets used once a year. But behold, there is a much simpler method. Brighter folks than me have discovered that the easiest way to cook a turkey is to remove the cavity.

It is genius. It is simpler. And it enables you to cook that enormous bird much faster. Start with setting the bird on the counter, breast side down. Using kitchen shears, cut down the right side of the bird's spine. Then do the same on the left side of the spine. Then remove the spine from the bird and save it to make turkey broth for your gravy.


Now flip the turkey over, breast side up. Press down hard in between the two breasts to crack the breast bone. Voila! There you have it. The cavity is gone and you only have to contend with a large, flat slab of turkey. Place the bird on a cooking pan and rub it thoroughly with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Skip adding any spices or herbs as they will just burn at the higher temperatures you will be cooking at.

Your turkey is now ready for your preferred method of cooking. You can oven-roast it, grill it or go low and slow in your smoker. I am a fanatic for the crisp, golden skin, so I always choose to oven-roast it. To accomplish that, I preheat my oven to 400ยบ (that flat slab of protein means I can do a hotter and much faster cook). Slide that spatchcocked beauty into the oven and cook for 12 minutes per pound (e.g., a 10-pound bird would cook for just 2 hours). If the skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent bird with foil.

When your bird is done, remove it from the oven and loosely cover it with foil. Do not encase it in foil, otherwise you will steam the skin and lose the crispness that everyone craves. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes and then carve it up, serving with your favorite sides. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Perfect turkey pairing: Let your guests choose between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

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