There is always that time of year when our thoughts turn to perfectly roasted, golden turkeys. We dream about them and plan how this will be the year that we score the coveted turkey leg. But have you ever had your dreams squashed because, in reality, the bird you were served was dry and flavorless? Well I’m here to show the way to turkey greatness!
It all starts with the brine. Brining is technique where meat is covered in a salt solution that naturally preserves the meat while also imparting flavor. The salt works to break down the muscle and proteins in the meat making it super tender and juicy. Now this brings about the debate of whether to wet brine or dry brine. While I have been wet brining for years, and have had great results doing it, I have not looked back since I started dry brining three years ago. There is less mess with dry brining and, in my taste buds’ opinion, it produces a superior flavor in the turkey. To top it all off, dry brining will give you much crisper skin and isn’t that the point of good turkey???
The other thing that takes your turkey to the next level is to spatchcock it! What is spatchcocking you say??? Spatchcock is a method of butterflying the turkey to increase the surface area so that it cooks evenly and in less time.
This recipe will make you the turkey hero that your family and friends have been waiting for! So get your superhero cape out and get cooking!
Roasted Spatchcock Turkey
12 – 14 pound fresh turkey that has been thawed and giblets removed
Dry Brine Ingredients:
3 ½ Tbsp fine kosher sea salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp coarse black pepper
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp allspice berries
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
- Remove any plastic hock locks and pop up thermometers from the turkey.
- Rinse the turkey in cold water and pat completely dry, inside and out, with clean paper towels.
- Mix the dry brine ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- With the breast side down, place the turkey on a large cutting board with the tail facing you. Using a good pair of kitchen shears or a serrated knife, but up one side of the backbone. Cut down the other side of the backbone and remove it. Reserve the backbone for stock.
- Clean the turkey by removing an excess skin or giblets remaining on the inside of the turkey.
- Flip the turkey over to the breast side up, press down firmly on the keel bone (center of both breast, until you hear a cracking sound and the bird flattens.
- Sprinkle the brine seasoning generously over both sides of the turkey. Be sure to get the brine in all of the nooks and crannies.
- Place the turkey in a roasting bag (removing as much air as possible), put it in a pan, and place it in the refrigerator for 48 hours. You can also place it in a pan and cover it with plastic wrap.
- After 48 hours, uncover the turkey, pat off any excess moisture, and place it back in the refrigerator, uncovered, for another 24 hours.
Cooking the Turkey:
Take the turkey out of the refrigerator one hour prior to roasting to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- In a small bowl, mix all of the olive oil with the rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt.
- Spoon the seasoned olive oil over both sides of the turkey and massage in thoroughly.
- In the bottom of your roasting pan (or cookie sheet), add roughly chopped aromatics (I use carrots, celery, onions, garlic, oranges, and lemons). Place a rack on top of the roasting pan and place the turkey on top of the rack, breast-side up, butterflied out so that the legs are extending outward. If you don’t have a rack, you can place the turkey directly on the aromatics.
- Roast the turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 450 degrees.
- After 30 minutes, rotate the turkey, turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees.
- Continue to roast your turkey until it reaches 165 degrees for the breast meat and 180-185 degrees for the thickest part of the thigh. Use a digital thermometer to see when you turkey has reached the perfect temperature.
- Remove from the oven and allow it rest for 30 – 60 minutes.
- Carve and serve!
Is your turkey browning too fast?
Cook the turkey uncovered for the entire time unless it appears to be getting too dark. At that point, you can tent it with foil, but do not cover it tightly. You have a better chance achieving crispy skin if your turkey is cooked uncovered. If your turkey is not in danger of turning too dark, let it be.