Cooking With Fire: Turkey Talk

Nov 2, 2018

Credit Justin Cary

Another Halloween has come and gone, which means that Thanksgiving is just weeks away.

It’s time to start planning your guest list and planning your menu. For most of you that means getting ready to cook that annual Thanksgiving turkey.

But it seems that there are many questions about the best way to prepare the turkey, what temperature to cook it to, and how much turkey to cook so everyone gets enough.

One of the more popular questions we get is, “What is spatchcocking, and should I use this technique for my turkey?” To answer the second part of that question, yes. You should spatchcock your turkey this year.

And here’s why.

The spatchcocking method is simple. It calls for cutting the backbone out of the poultry and laying it flat to cook.

Once the bird has been laid flat you simply season it and then roast it, in your oven or on your grill, as you normally would.

But with the bird splayed out you get some serious advantages. First, all of the meat is exposed to the heat. Nothing is tucked under the bird, which means the skin will get nice and crisp, and the meat will cook consistently.

Once the turkey breast reaches your desired doneness the thighs and legs are done and ready to eat. No more overcooking one-part of the bird as you wait for others to finish.

We promise, if you spatchcock your bird this year your friends and family will be impressed with the results.

Spatchcock Turkey

Ingredients

  • 1 whole turkey (10-15lb)

For brine:

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 6 quarts water, divided
  • ice

For poultry rub:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

Combine 1 quart of water with the salt, sugar, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Add the remaining 5 quarts of ice water. Be sure the water is cool before adding the turkey. Make sure the turkey is fully submerged. Add a plate or two to hold the bird down. Refrigerate the turkey in the brine, one pound per hour.

Remove the turkey from the brine. Pat the bird dry with paper towels. Spatchcock the turkey. To take the backbone out, place the bird breast side down. Cut along both sides of the backbone with kitchen shears, from one opening of the cavity to the other. Pull the skin away from the meat, but leave it attached. 

Mix the poultry rub ingredients together. Season the meat under the skin for maximum flavor absorption, as well as on top of the skin.

Preheat your grill to 350ºF, set up for indirect grilling. Lay the bird flat, skin side up on a foil lined sheet pan and place the pan in the cooker. Cook the turkey until all of the meat has reached an internal temperature of 165ºF. It is likely that the legs will cook a bit faster than the breasts. That is fine. However, do NOT cook the breasts past 165ºF. We recommend using an instant read thermometer.

The thighs will separate from the rest of the body very easily, just slice through the skin. You can serve the quarters whole, separate the leg from the thigh (by cutting at the joint) or you can pull the meat from the bones and discard the bones. The breasts can either be sliced intact or removed from the breast bone, separated from wings, and sliced to serve. The wings can be served whole or you may remove the skin and pull that meat from the bones.

Until you're ready to serve, store the meat, covered, in a pan with the juices rendered while cooking.

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