Whether it's your turn to host Thanksgiving or not, there’s one thing every person needs to know in life…how to cook a turkey. It rates just below knowing not to put dish soap into your dishwasher (learn from our past mistakes here,) and just above knowing how to tie your shoes. For some reason the idea of cleaning, prepping, and cooking that most famous fowl tends to send people over the edge, but we can promise you that there is a better way to cook a turkey! We just happen to have two tried and true turkey recipes that are far superior to the traditional dry bird you’re used to (no offense intended…we’ve eaten our fair share of those in our day!) Not only are these birds delicious, but they can be prepped and on the table in less than 3 hours. No brining, no basting, no fuss…just incredibly juicy and flavorful turkey meat. Don’t believe us? Try these recipes out for yourself!
For Blasted Turkey (Trust us…after you taste this one you’ll be singing its praises, not blasting it!) Here’s what you need:
A 12-16lb fresh or frozen turkey (follow the directions for defrosting if using a frozen turkey.)
Preheat your oven for 450 degrees, and set the rack to the lowest position. Before the fun of cooking the bird begins, you’ve got to make sure to clean out it’s cavities and remove the bag of giblets, and the neck bone. Surprises are only good inside of Cracker Jack boxes…you do Not want to pull out any prizes from your cooked bird. Once you’ve remove the giblets and neck bone you can reserve them to cook and add to your gravy. It’s not a requirement, but sure makes for a delicious addition to the sauce. Next, rinse the bird inside and out with cold water. Do this a few times, and once all of the excess water is drained out lay the turkey on paper towels and pat it dry.
Put the turkey onto the rack in your roasting pan breast side down and rub butter, or ghee, all over the skin to evenly cover it. Salt and pepper this entire side, including inside the cavity, then flip over so the breast side is up. Repeat the butter rub down on this side, and be sure to get butter and seasoning underneath the skin on the breast. It’s a little tricky to maneuver your hand between the skin and breast meat, but the end result is well worth it! Don’t be scared…we promise Tom will not gobble you up! Now your bird is ready for the oven! By now your oven should be a nice toasty 450 degrees, and your rack should be on the lowest setting to allow room for the roasting pan. Put the roasting pan into the oven, but don’t go too far away since this blasted bird (see what we did there?) really doesn’t take very long at all.
While this bird is on the oven we can start prepping bird number two, or if you want to stop here feel free to get your sides cooking, because you’ll want to have everything ready when this guy comes out of the oven! After about 45 minutes take a peek at your bird, and rotate the roasting pan 180 degrees to ensure even cooking. Keep cooking the turkey until the thermometer reads 170°F (the temperature will rise to 180°F when the turkey is removed from the oven). After about an hour in the oven you’ll want to check it every 10-15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook. The time is takes to cook will be determined most by the size of the bird, we used a 12lb turkey and it cooked for roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes before the temperature hit 170 degrees. When your turkey reaches the magic number, pull it out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes to allow the yummy juices to settle into the meat. While it’s resting you can set the table, take a few pictures of the bird’s golden deliciousness, and pat yourself on the back…YOU did it!
A roasting pan if cooking it in the oven (we cooked ours on a Traeger Grill and would highly recommend that method.)
Since we’ve already covered how to clean the bird, let’s skip ahead to the prep for this guy. Now that your turkey is washed and dried it’s time for a little light surgery. Grab those kitchen shears and flip your bird over, so the back bone is exposed. Starting from the tail end of the bird cut directly along the backbone on each side to remove the bone completely. Once the bone is removed flip the bird back over so the breast side is up and push firmly down on the bird to break the breastbone, and completely flatten it out. This may be the first time you’ve gotten this cozy with your turkey, but believe us when we tell you that as unseemly as this step is, it is crucial to cooking a perfect spatchcock turkey.
Now it’s time to give your turkey the rub down with butter or ghee, and a good seasoning. Standard salt and pepper, like the previous bird, will be just fine, BUT if you want to kick up the flavor level a hundred fold put together a little cajun spice blend and sprinkle it onto the bird after you rub the butter on. For ours, we threw together a little blend of pink salt, ghost chile powder, chipotle powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder…you can always use your favorite pre-made cajun spice blend, no judgement here. Make sure you get under the skin on the breast to ensure the flavor is infused into the breast meat.
If you’re roasting your bird, place it onto a shallow rimmed baking sheet and cook in a 450 degree oven until the internal temperature reaches 170. Again you’ll want to make sure to let it rest for at least 30 minutes to let the juices settle.
If you’re grilling your bird, here’s where it gets a little more interesting! Whether it be a gas, charcoal, or a good ol’ Traeger Grill, there’s one common denominator…be sure you do NOT cook it over an open flame. You can use aluminum foil to shield the turkey from the direct flame if needed. The goal here is for nice crispy skin, and that open flame will char your buttered bird skin in no time (it’s not tasty or attractive…at all!) There’s no need to turn your bird over once it is on the grill. Just let it chill there until the internal temp reaches 170, then carefully remove it and let it rest for 30 minutes (we know you know this…but it’s better to be safe than sorry.) We’re not sure what else you’ve cooked up to go along with your fabulous birds, but we know that it will be quite the challenge to not just eat all of the turkey off of the platter before it even reaches the table.
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