Spatchcocked Turkey. Say What?

We tried some different things on Thanksgiving this year.  The Grill-Meister did a goose on the rotisserie, and I spatchcocked a turkey. Yup, I sure did.

The goose was interesting, and the leftovers made really, really good gumbo a couple of days after Thanksgiving.  More on that another time.

The turkey was terrific – moist on the inside, with crispy, savory, dark brown skin on the outside.  Everything you want in a turkey, juicy meat and enough skin so that you don’t have to slap the hands of hungry guests sneaking a pinch of that mahogany goodness.

Basically, spatchcocking is removing the backbone, opening the bird and smashing it down as flat as you can to maximize the exposure to the heat.  Where did that word come from?  Some folks think it was originally Irish and was either short for “dispatch cock” or  a variation on “split cock”.  If you’re interested, The Naked Whiz has a great article with an exhaustive list of spatchcock references and definitions (no nudity on the page, I promise).

I learned how to do the spatchcock thing from the internet (thank you, Google!) and want to share my findings here in case you’re interested in doing your turkey this way for Christmas.

  • This WordPress blog had helpful hints and lessons learned:  What’s For Dinner Solutions Thanksgiving Files.  Because I had already purchased my bird, I wasn’t able to adhere to one of her lessons, which is to use smaller turkeys.  They’re easier to smash and will fit into a standard roasting pan.  I had to borrow a pan (thanks, Dad and Lucy!) to cram my lumbering 18-lb. bird into.
  • Martha Stewart taught me the technique:  click here.  Hey, you can say what you want about Martha, but her recipes and instructions are top-notch.  Just what you’d expect from a perfectionist.
  • Saveur, one of my favorite food magazines, provided the recipe that I think I’ll be using as my new standard:  click here for their recipe called The Perfect bird.  It was.  I adapted it to the spatchcock method and used the recommended cooking times from Martha.  The Perfect Bird instructions have you pre-salt the turkey two days ahead of time and then sit in the fridge uncovered, which dries the skin and ensures that perfectly bronzed crispy texture that calls your name as it comes out of the oven.
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A bit of thyme clings to the turkey right before the Grill-Meister starts carving.  That’s an 18-inch diameter cutting board, to give you an idea of how big the turkey was.  Look at all that yummy skin.
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The recipe for The Perfect Turkey provides lots of pan drippings that are transformed into The Perfect Gravy.

 

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

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