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Revisiting An Old Friend

So as promised, I am reporting back on the grand experiment of roasting a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving. It may have been my first, but definitely won’t be my last. It was absolutely perfect. The most challenging part was cutting through the back bones, but with a little perseverance, I got through it. All our guests said it was the best turkey they ever had, which left me smiling from ear to ear!

Spatchcocking turkey cooks more evenly and more quickly than non-butterflied versions. The skin ends up perfectly crisp, and both the white and dark meat finish roasting at the correct temperatures to guarantee that nothing drys out! I didn’t even need to drown it in gravy.

Last but certainly not least, is to make sure you save your turkey carcass and bones. It makes for a much better and more delicious stock than you could ever purchase.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 12-14 pound spatchcocked (butterflied) fresh turkey

  2. 6 sprigs fresh thyme

  3. 6 sprigs fresh rosemary

  4. 2 cups turkey or chicken stock (preferably homemade)

  5. Olive oil

  6. Kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Spatchcock your turkey. Place turkey on cutting board breast side down. Dry your turkey by patting it with paper towels. Cut out the turkey’s back with a pair of solid poultry shears. Holding it firmly with one hand, make a cut along one side of the backbone, starting down near where the thighs meat the tail. Continue cutting, working your way around the thigh joint until you’ve snipped through every rib bone and completely split the turkey up to the neck. Use your hands to spread the turkey open slightly. Then make an identical cut along the other side of the backbone. This cut is a little trickier, so make sure not to get your fingers in the way of the blade. Using a clean dish towel or rag to hold on to the bird will make it easier to keep control. Once you’ve removed the backbone entirely, you should remove a large hood of fat up near the neck, if it’s there. And if you wish to make carving even easier, the wish bone can also be removed by making a thin incision with the tip of a paring knife or boning knife along both sides of it, and pulling it out with your fingers. Turn the turkey over onto what once was its back, splaying its legs out in a manner that can only be described as inappropriate. Press down hard on the ridge of the breast bone. You should hear a couple of cracks, and the turkey should now rest flatter. Flatter is better for even cooking and crispier skin.

  2. Next dry-brine your turkey. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of Kosher salt in a small dish. With your thumb, index and middle finger grab a pinch of salt and from about 6 inches above your turkey sprinkle salt over all surfaces, both front and back. Salt liberally. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

  3. Remove your turkey at least 1 hour before putting in your preheated oven. Place your oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 450 degrees F. Line your sheet pan with foil. Dry your turkey with paper towels. Do not rinse! Blush your bird with olive oil, both front and back. Salt and pepper both sides again. Finally, tuck the wing tips behind the breast. This step is not strictly necessary, but it’ll prevent your turkey from looking like it wants to give you a high five as it roasts. Before you move your turkey, place your sprigs of thyme and rosemary on your baking sheet, and pour 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock on your sheet pan. Cover this with your wire rack and place your spatchcocked turkey on the rack.

  4. Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150 degree F, and the thighs registers at least 165 degrees F, about 80 minutes.

  5. When turkey is finished, move it to a clean baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 20-30 minutes. Carve turkey and serve.

Great turkey stock is a important component for future soup, using your left over meat. This recipe should render 4-5 quarts of liquid gold.

HOMEMADE TURKEY STOCK

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Turkey carcass and any leftover bones from legs and wings

  2. 6 quarts of water

  3. 4 celery stalks, cut in 3 inch pieces

  4. 2 large onions, quartered, leaving skin on

  5. 4 large carrots, cut in 3 inch pieces

  6. Bouquet garni of rosemary, thyme and parsley, tied with kitchen twine

  7. 2 bay leaves

  8. 10 black peppercorns

  9. 1 head garlic cloves, unpeeled

  10. 1 tablespoon Kosher salt

  11. 1 tablespoon Braggs Amino Acids

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large stock pot.

  2. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for 4 hours.

  3. Let cool enough to handle vegetables. Remove large pieces of bones, and vegetables. Taste for salt, adding more if needed. I also squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into the stock as well.

  4. Using a large bowl, place a wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth over bowl. Pour or ladle stock through cheesecloth. Place in 1 quart containers and let cool to room temperature. Freeze or use immediately for soup.

Yields: 4-5 quarts

“Gratitude turns what we have, into enough.”
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