The holidays are always a time of celebration and the perfect opportunity to bring people together. However, it can be stressful trying to make a dish that everyone will enjoy. If you’re planning on cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, there’s no need to worry! This recipe for spatchcock turkey is guaranteed to please even the most picky eaters in your family.
Who needs a whole turkey when you can get the same great taste with half the trouble?
It was originally used to create more surface area for roasting but has since been adopted by chefs all over who want to create juicy birds using minimal time and effort.
What does it mean to spatchcock a turkey?
Spatchcocking is a cooking technique that involves splitting and flattening out poultry such as chicken, duck or turkey. You can buy spatchcock tools online or use kitchen shears to cut the backbone of your bird before roasting it.
Spatchcock cooking takes 25% less time than normal roasting, too!
This is a brined Turkey so plan to start preparation 1-2 days before actual cooking.
1 Whole Turkey
3/4 C Poultry Rub
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
1.5 Gallons Water
1 C Kosher Salt
1- 12oz can Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
4 oranges (cut in wedges)
1 Lime (sliced)
1 Lemon (sliced)
2 tsp Black Pepper (fresh ground)
1 tsp Dried Thyme
3 Bay Leaves
2 Cloves Garlic
6 C Ice
How to make your brine
- Combine all brine ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add ice.
- Place in refrigerator and allow temperature to drop to at most 50° F.
- If they are provided, remove all giblets and neck from Turkey and keep for your gravy if you plan on making your own.
- Transfer brine to a food safe 5 gallon bucket and place Turkey in breast-side down
- Ensure the Turkey is 95% submerged.
- Place lid on bucket and store in refrigerator or at a temperature above 32°F but no higher than 40°F. Brine for 24-36 hours.
How to spatchcock your turkey
- On the day you plan to cook and 1 hour prior to cooking, remove the Turkey from the brine and allow to rest on a wire rack placed in a cookie sheet or other sheet pan or pay dry with a few paper towels.
- Turn Turkey over onto its breast-side and, with a knife, make a slice along each side of the backbone.
- Then, using a good stout pair of poultry shears, cut along the slices and remove the backbone.
- Rarely are my poultry shears strong enough so I end up using my large knife to finish this step.
- After the backbone is removed, score the backside of the breastbone. This will make it much easier to break so that the bird sits flat which will cause it to cook more evenly.
- Flip Turkey back over and firmly press down on the breastbone until it breaks. Fold the legs and thighs in and pin the wing tips back behind the breast.
- Meanwhile, preheat your grill or oven temperature to 375°F.
How to cook your turkey
- Place Turkey on grill or in oven and insert a heat resistant temperature probe into the thickest part of the breast.
- Plan on cooking for 7-9 minutes per pound or until the temperature probe reads 160°F.
- Remove from grill or oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Carry over cooking will allow the bird to reach 165°F and also the natural juices to reincorporate into the meat resulting in a juicy and tender Turkey.
- Carve breast meat to desired thickness and separate legs and thighs for the dark meat fans.
How do you carve a turkey?
In my experience, the best way to carve a turkey is to remove each piece from joint. For example:
Remove leg from thigh by cutting in between the joint and then pulling it away with a bit of force if needed. You can break or cut through cartilage that may be in your way but try not to go too far into the thigh meat.
Remove the wings by cutting through cartilage at joint and removing with a bit of force if needed. You can go in between tendons here but avoid going too far into the wing or drumette section to prevent tearing up your breast meat.
This is usually where most people get nervous about carving their turkey because we know that this is where the meat is thickest and hardest to cut. However, it’s actually easiest at this step because you can see exactly what you’re cutting into which allows for a nice clean slice without too much fussing around.
Remove each breast by slicing through skin between breast and wing until hitting bone then give it a little wiggle if needed to expose the joint. Cut through this and then slice down along breastbone with a smooth motion, trying not to go too deep into meat or you’ll have some trouble getting your slices nice and even.
Once all pieces are removed from bone, take each piece one by one in your hand (if it’s still hot – use an oven mit!) and starting at the thickest end, slice straight down with a good carving knife.
How do you store leftover turkey?
Store leftover turkey in an airtight container or zip-top bag and refrigerate for up to three days. You can also freeze your leftovers if you don’t plan on eating them within that time frame! Just make sure the turkey is completely cooled before transferring it to a freezer-safe container, label with name and date of preparation, and store for up to three months.