I Spatchcocked A Turkey For Thanksgiving. Here’s Why You Should Next Year
Or even for Christmas.
I'm not a huge fan of traditional Thanksgiving fare. The sides are fine but the traditional centerpiece, the turkey has never been my favorite. I don't dislike turkey but it's never really excited me and since I've started cooking myself the effort to payoff ratio was always way off.
The traditional roasted turkey takes a long time to prepare and unless you're basting it every 15 minutes, most of it turns out dry. Brining your turkey has become very popular over the last decade or so. I've done that before. It works well, but finding a vessel large enough to brine your turkey for as long as 48 hours before Thanksgiving can be a hassle. At the end of the day, you get a better tasting, jucier turkey, but it's still a lot of work.
Deep frying a turkey is fun and delicious but it also involves a lot of specialized equipment and we've seen enough videos from the fire department to know how dangerous it can be.
All the reasons above are why I jumped on the two latest trends in cooking your Thanksgiving. A dry brine and spatchcocking the turkey.
Both these methods will make your next turkey a breeze and have you wondering where they've been your whole cooking life.
First the spatchcocking. I think I first heard about spatchcocking about 10 years ago in a cooking magazine. They were spatchcocking chickens to make brick chicken on the grill.
Here's the basic recipe.
More recently, I've been noticing a lot of cooking outlets saying that you should also be trying to do this with a turkey.
I needed to try it, but there was one personal hurdle.
I'm a decent cook but have always shied away from recipes that had me do anything with whole birds. Whenever the directions start telling me to "pop-out" a shoulder joint, I move on.
Spatchcocking involves the removal of the backbone, traditionally using kitchen shears and then flattening the turkey to maximize the cooking surface area. Removing poultry backbones has never been on my cooking resume but I got an idea from one of the recipes that I had found. They suggested that you could just ask a butcher to do this for you when you pick up your turkey.
I thought I'd ask my butcher if they would do this and was told "absolutely" Shout out to 640 Meats for the great service.
When I picked it up, they cut out the backbone (you still get to keep it, so you can make some turkey stock with it) and I was on my way.
There was just one more step before cooking and that was the dry brine.
This is easy. I used this Williams Sonoma dry brine and just mixed it with some extra salt and brown sugar to ensure an even coat.
That's all you have to do. Flatten the turkey and cover it with the brine. Then put it in the fridge 24 hours before you cook it and you're ready to go.
Here's what it looked like before it went in the oven.
Place it right on the rack with a roasting tray underneath it to catch your drippings. Start your oven off at 425 and close the door for 20 minutes.
Here's how it looks after 20 minutes.
Lower the temp to 350 and check it every 20 minutes.
Here is the turkey after 40 minutes.
And at 60 minutes it was done. Breast meat was registering at 150, the dark meat was a little high at 170 but still turned out alright.
Let it rest (upside down) for as long as you cooked it.
And then you're ready to carve.
I forgot to take pictures of the carving but here is a finished plate.
Juicy, flavorful, and totally cooked and sliced in about 2 hours. I'll never go back and you should try it as well.
Turkey still isn't my favorite meal to prepare but this way is so simple and fast that I'll be more than happy to make it for family members that still insist on having something "traditional" on the Thanksgiving table.
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