A few weeks back I wrote about spatchcocking poultry. I tried it with a chicken and cooked iron my grill as a practice session for my Thanksgiving turkey. I was a very special chicken!
This was a very wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of new dishes and great help from my daughters, Mande and Emily, who helped make it special for our family.
Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone completely from the bird, turning it over and scoring beside or removing the keel bone. Splay the back and press down firmly on the breastbone until you feel and hear it crack. You then can cook the bird flat. Years ago I would have called it butterflying the fowl, but spatchcocking is much more fun to say!
I dutifully purchased a 14 pound bird and set it in the fridge for five days to thaw. The night before Thanksgiving, I did the deed and rubbed they bird with a dry rub made from toasted anise see, grated orange zest and kosher salt. The bird rested on a rack, uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. I was supposed to wash the rub off the bird, but I chose to rub it off with paper towels following Thomas Keller’s advice to let the bird sit uncovered for six to 18 hours in the refrigerator to dry the skin a bit.
The turkey starts out with a basting of olive oil, toasted anise seed and strips of orange zest. It starts out at 450 for 30 minutes; then the temperature is reduced to 350 and basted every 20 minutes until an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165. Remove the turkey from the oven, tent it and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving. My 14 pound bird was done in just over two hours.
Remove the wings and the thighs. Separate the legs from the thighs. I carved the thighs for the dark meat fans at the table. I left the legs whole for the presentation. You can easily remove each breast half intact and slice it on the platter.
This may have been the best turkey I’ve had in years. It certainly has made me a fan of spatchcocking.