What the H*LL is Frog Turkey? Here’s the complete guide to making Frog Turkey!
It is that time of year again where the talk of the culinary world is based around one protein…..that’s right, turkey! It’s Thanksgiving time! That giant golden bird set in the middle of your table with its crispy skin just calling your name. Stuffing (dressing if you’re from the south) filling the cavity of the bird, fried onion topped green bean casserole and Aunt Millie’s sweet potato casserole overflowing with mini marshmallows, all just waiting to be dug into. You are standing there with the carving knife in your hand, your fingers crossed on your other hand, just hoping that it is juicy enough to keep the in laws smiling! It’s make or break time….
The Search For The Perfect Turkey
Over the years, the desire for a new method of cooking turkey has led to all sorts of different methods, some more successful than others. You still have the standard whole turkey roasting method which has been done since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. There is now the ever popular deep fried turkey, with its crispy golden skin and juicy succulent meat (so long as you didn’t burn the backyard down). Along came the spatchcock turkey which involves removing the backbone and cooking the turkey while lying flat. This is an eggcellent way to cook a bird and can provide a very moist, tender turkey. The only problem that I see is that it can be a bit tough to cut through some of the bones and I was also always led to believe that the bone will aid in the cooking process and provide extra flavor. Why would we want to remove that?
Frog Turkey Origins
Well, I have learned a new method that has the benefits of leaving that backbone in place, lays it flat, much the way that spatchcocking does, delivers an incredibly moist and tender bite and looks really cool too, The Frog Turkey. Now the question arises, what the h*ll is a Frog Turkey?
This a method that I learned from Live fire cooking master, Al Frugoni. It involves making a few simple cuts and removing the wing tips in order to allow the bird to lay flat. Instead of opening the bird side to side like a spatchcock, this method more peels back the breast and then flipping the bird over. A good push down and the turkey lays perfectly flat, much like a spatchcocked bird only much, MUCH cooler looking. This is where the name comes in to play. It really resembles a frog when it is done! You can breathe easy now, no frogs will be injured during the cooking of Thanksgiving dinner.
HOW to Butcher Your Turkey to Make Frog Turkey – easier than you think!
PART ONE: slice between breast and legs area on both sides
PART TWO: After pulling out the breast area to lay flat, remove the wing tips.
PART THREE: FINISHED FROG TURKEY! Unlike Spatchcocking, No cutting through bone needed!
To Brine or Not to Brine?
One of the other reasons that I am so in love with this new method is that you can take it right out of the package and get to cooking. Because of the way that it cooks, there is no need to brine. This method will provide for a very juicy bird that will leak like a leaky faucet when you cut it up. You are free to brine it if you insist but it is totally not necessary. I will add that it also won’t hurt. My only concern with wet brining is that moisture is the enemy of crispy skin. If you do want to brine, check out Robyn’s All purpose Rosemary Orange Brine Recipe.
There is another way of brining known as dry brining. This entails coating the bird in seasonings, inside and out and UNDER the skin. It then sits for hours or up to overnight. This allows the juices from the meat to seep out, grab those spices and pull them back down into the center of the meat. Again, with the way that this method works, I do not find it necessary to dry brine but if you would like to try it, have at it, it won’t hurt anything.
The Air-Drying Option
You could always do the air-drying step for crispier skin, but I did not notice much of a difference between doing it and not. If you are not familiar with air drying, it simply means taking the turkey out of the package, emptying the cavity and patting it dry. Then take the bird and place it, unwrapped in the fridge overnight. This dries out the skin and helps to crisp it while cooking. With the Frog Turkey, because of the higher heat and air flow, I do not find it absolutely necessary but it is really up to you. I will mark air drying as “optional” for this process.
Seasoning A Frog Turkey
The seasoning on a turkey can make a huge difference in this process. What good is crispy skin if it has no flavor? Myself, I like to keep it simple. I give a quick rub down of the entire bird with olive oil and apply a dry rub all over the entire bird. Top, bottom, inside, everywhere. Cover the entire thing for maximum flavor. For this bird, I used Robyn’s Sunshine State of Mind craft BBQ Rub and Cocktail Rimmer. It has a great mix of flavors and the color turns out amazing. Hey, that is important, we eat with our eyes first! You can use whatever seasoning that you like but stay away from mixes that are too salty or contain too much sugar. The sugar tends to burn and create a terrible flavor. The only thing worse than a Thanksgiving dinner with bad turkey is Uncle Frank snoring on the couch while you’re trying to catch the end of the Turkey Day football games.
Direct or Indirect Grilling?
This is an interesting one. For this recipe I cooked the bird using the indirect method. This simply means that there is a deflector in between the food and fire. It pretty much equates to turning the Egg into a charcoal conveggtion oven. It allows the food to cook evenly and does not require much attention. The other way that some like to do is called “raised direct” grilling. This requires raising the cooking grate to at least as high as the edge of the grill. For this, you will need an Eggspander basket or other way to raise the grate. Because you will have flames directly under the bird, it can require the need to pay much more attention during the cooking process. I prefer the indirect method but again, it is up to what you are most comfortable with. (subliminal message-Cook it indirect)
Ingredients for Making Frog Turkey
- 12-14 Lb. turkey. If larger, increase the cooking time- I like to buy pasture raised, antibiotic free Turkeys from Crowd Cow
- Sunshine State of Mind BBQ Rub
- Olive Oil
If you don’t have a meat thermometer yet, RUN, don’t walk to get one. It is IMPERATIVE to know when your food has reached the proper internal temp so you can ensure you don’t over or undercook your meat. This is super important for ALL cooking, not just on your grill. Here are my recommendations for Meat Thermometers:
The Thermapen is the gold standard in instant read thermometers- they will give you a temperature reading in as little as one second depending on which one you buy. The Classic Thermapen is the Chef and food safety standard for Meat thermometers. You can get one for as low as $79 – consider this an investment in being a better cook!
Thermoworks also makes what is called the Thermopop– this has less bells and whistles than the Thermapen but gets the job done under $35 while still delivering a 3 second internal temperature reading.
If you are technically inclined and want to monitor your cook in real time on your phone with a Wifi enabled Meat thermometer that will guide you through the cooking process while also notifying you when your meat has reached the proper internal temperature, then the MEATER is for you. Use my code to get a 10% discount!
for adding smoke to your Turkey – I prefer Bourbon Barrel Chips (made from Bourbon Barrels) or fruit wood but use what you like.
Alternatives to Frog Turkey
If you aren’t yet sold on Frog Turkey, check out all my other poultry and turkey recipes here. Spatchcocked Turkey is by far one of the most popular ways to cook turkey, but I really love my smoked Turkey Breast with Alabama white sauce as a weekly staple.
AND be sure to follow Cptn Ron on instagram – he has great content!!!
The “Frog” Technique is a new butchering technique for poultry, similar to Spatchcocking, but yields even more moist and juicy results that was originally created by Al Frugoni.
- 1 – 12 lb turkey
- olive oil
- Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub
- IF YOU’D LIKE TO DRY BRINE: If you choose not to, skip to step 2. If you choose to, gently insert your fingers in between the skin and meat on the breasts and thighs. Slowly move them around to create a pocket. Season the meat on top and under the skin with Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub & Cocktail Rimmer. Allow the bird to sit for a few hours or as long as overnight.
- Fill your grill with lump charcoal and set it up for indirect grilling at 375-400°.
- Empty out the cavity of the turkey and pat it dry, inside and out.
- Using a sharp knife, remove the tip section of the wings. Next, starting at the cavity opening, slice the turkey just above the leg/thigh section toward the “nose”. You may have to cut through a couple of the ribs, that is normal. Repeat on the other side.
- Peel back the entire breast section until it will “hinge” freely. Turn the bird over, lay it down on a flat surface with the breast section and leg/thigh sections facing upwards. Press down firmly on the breast until you hear a cracking sound. Press firmly on each thigh section as well until they sit flat. Lay the bird out with the wing sections facing forwards and the legs facing backward. The turkey should now resemble a frog. Coat the bird with a very thin layer of olive oil. Apply the rub liberally and evenly over the entire bird.
- Place the turkey in the center of the grate and close the dome. Allow the turkey to cook until it hits 160°. (check the bird halfway through to make sure it is cooking evenly. If the skin is getting darker on one half, rotate the bird 180°) Remove the turkey to a platter and loosely tent it with foil. Allow the bird to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes prior to carving.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Category: Turkey Recipes, Holiday Recipes
- Method: Grill/Smoke
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: FROG TURKEY, frog turkey butchering technique