I’ve done beer can turkey on the Big Green Egg for the past two years so I was looking to do something different this year for this year's Thanksgiving turkey. When I saw the Spatchcocked Turkey on my friend’s Chris’ blog NibbleMeThis, I was inspired to use this method for Thanksgiving this year.
What is “spatchcocking”?
What does “Spatchcocking” mean exactly? Spatchcocking refers to butterflying a bird, (or any kind of poultry) removing the backbone and then cooking it butterflied, spread out on the cooking surface. What is great about spatchcocking is by butterflying the bird, it cooks much faster than roasting as the bird is spread out on the heat surface.
I’ve spatchcocked chicken and Cornish game hens before and it is one of my favorite grilling techniques and it is now is my go-to way to cook turkey.
- Cooks faster and more evenly
- Smokey grilled flavor
- Crispy edges
To brine or not to brine
I didn’t brine my turkey first, and it turned out great when I did my Paleo Thanksgiving test run a few weeks ago, but I may brine for Thanksgiving. My vote is still undecided about brining and whether or not it is worth it. When I took a class from French Trained Chef Jeanne Pierre last year he said he had tried both ways and you couldn’t tell the difference between a brined or unbrined turkey. But, if you decide to brine I thought Chris’ Orange Bourbon brine looked wonderful and fragrant and this is the recipe I will use if I do decide to brine for Thanksgiving.
Spatchcocked Turkey on the Grill
The best part of this recipe is that it cuts down the cook time and it also frees up valuable oven space for some of those side dishes since you are using your grill, NOT your oven!
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 large bunch rosemary, tarragon and thyme- leaves removed off the stems
- juice of 2 lemons
- sea salt, large pinch, large pinch
- fresh ground pepper, large pinch
- 1 turkey, spatchcocked with back bone removed (save yourself the trouble and have your butcher do this!)
- If brining, brine overnight and then pat dry.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon juice with a stick blender.
- Next, lay the turkey out on a big cutting board or plate and spread it out. Slide your fingers under the skin and separate it from the meat to placement of butter. Slather butter underneath the breast, legs, etc- anywhere you can get butter underneath the skin- this is what is going to keep it moist (this is the unfun part but the results are worth it!).
- Heat your grill to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the grill grates and when nice and heated up, grill the turkey on each side for 8-10 minutes or until nice char marks have begun to form.
- Remove the turkey now and place on a grill safe pan so you can collect juices from the turkey to make gravy with. **In order to get char marks and crispy edges, during the last 20 minutes, take out of the pan and put dirctly on the grill
- Now, place the turkey back onto the cooker and let cook until an internal read thermometer such as the ThermaPen or ChefAlarm, reads 170 degrees. Depending on the size of the turkey, this could take between 2 and 3+ hours. I had a smaller turkey that was approximately 10 lbs and it took 2.5 hours.
I used the Pit Barrel Cooker to cook this turkey.
The Pit Barrel Cooker is a drum smoker and grill and when grilling on direct heat, you are still fairly far away from the flames. However, with a kettle style grill I would recommend creating a direct and indirect cooking zone for this cook. (cooking direct over coals vs. cooking more like an oven, on the side without coals/direct heat source to simulate roasting or cooking in the oven.) So, for example, on a kettle grill I would grill the turkey first on direct for the char marks, and then let it continue to cook on indirect for the remainder of the cook.
I recommend using the Thermapen for accurate & fast internal temperature readings
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I’m with you, regardless of the recipe you might choose, spatchcocking is the way to go for turkey on the grill or in the oven.
Can’t say I’ve ever heard of this method of cooking. It sounds delicious, though, that’s for sure! Might have to test this out before its too late…
Spatchcock is the way to go for turkey and chicken. We did a spatchcock turkey on the Egg for Canadian Thanksgiving. Rubbed an herb butter under the skin and on top (sage, thyme, parsley). We then melted the leftover her butter to baste the turkey periodically during the cook. The skin was a dark, rich colour with tons of flavour.
And since the turkey was spatchcocked, it was cooked perfectly even.
Greg, I”m going to baste in butter too. It will give me something to do while drinking beer outside. (Not like I won’t have like 5 other dishes to work in for thanksgiving but still!!)
Would you do it indirect on the Egg – I say Bobby Flay a turkety on the Egg on Ina’s show and all he did was salt and pepper it – then basted it with a mixture of honey/chicken broth and apple cider vinegar – was thinking of doing that – but maybe I will spatchcock it? Looks delish!
I would love to know how my words got so mixed up – I saw Bobby Flay do a turkey on the Egg – hate auto correct – ha ha