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Cooking with Fire

Cooking with Fire: Thanksgiving Turkey



Thanksgiving is nearly here, and I am prepping myself for the day-long eat-a-thon... drinking lots of water, stretching, and reinforcing my pants with a little elastic at the sides.

Okay, so I'm not quite going that far, but between me and you, I am planning my first pass through the line to make sure I get a little of everything I want. We've all been there before. We load up on the foods we see first and leave no room for the green bean casserole hiding behind Grandma's jello-like dessert she insists on bringing each year.

Our plates overflow with mounds of food and all we can think about as we eat is how we wasted valuable real estate on lesser foods.

And depending on how your family sets up your food assembly line, that may mean the saddest thing of all. Leaving very little room for that delicious, moist, golden brown turkey.

Now, I know some of you may be thinking: What if our turkey isn't delicious, moist and golden brown? Maybe we fill up on sides because the dry, flavorless turkey just isn't that appealing.

Well, we're here to fix that. Join my co-host Chef Tom and I on this week's Cooking with Fire as we break down the absolute best way to smoke and roast a turkey. So turn off your oven, ditch the fryer, and let us show you a better way.

Spatchcock Turkey


  • 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


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.