Try this Spatchock Smoked Turkey
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Smoked Spatchcock Turkey
Often when faced with cooking a whole turkey, you find the challenge of ensuring every part of the bird is cooked to temperature. This can result in some extra work in ensuring that certain parts that cook faster don’t dry out or burn on the exterior. Think the wings and drumsticks. It’s a lot of work!
I’m going to introduce you to a method of cooking a turkey that will ensure every part cooks at the same rate and to the same doneness level without having to cover specific parts with foil. Spatchcocking a whole turkey meets that goal and by doing the cooking process on the gas grill with hardwood, you get the added benefit of a smoke flavor and oven room for preparing other dishes.
Order up a whole turkey, preferably under 24 lbs., and let’s meet in the kitchen to prepare the bird for smoking.
Does Fresh Make a Difference?
There is no question that I prefer a fresh turkey over frozen as the flavor is simply cleaner and the bird produces super moist meat compared to a frozen turkey. We are fortunate to have within 10 miles of our location, a fresh turkey farm that harvests turkeys once a year, just a couple of days ahead of Thanksgiving. My bird weighed in just under 22lbs. The organs and neck are removed from the cavity and the bird flipped breast side down to expose the backbone. This is where we start our spatchcock process. Get sharp cutting shears ready as we prepare to remove the backbone of our turkey.
Tasting Notes: If fresh whole turkey is not available, you may substitute frozen whole turkey. Just be sure it is completely defrosted and pat dried before starting this recipe.
Flatten and Rub for a Perfect Spatchcock Smoked Turkey
I won’t lie to you. Removing the backbone of a fresh turkey can be a bit of work, but it is so worth it. Start on one side of the backbone, insert sharp kitchen shears, and start to snip away. You’ll draw the shears along the edge of the backbone, releasing the bone from the meat. Done correctly, the spine will come out in one piece.
With the backbone removed it’s time for the final preparation to the turkey. Flip the turkey back so the breast is facing up. Time to break the breastbone so the turkey will lay flat on the cooking sheet pan. This will take both hands and a lot of force. Position your hands across the breast and push down with all your force until you hear the breast plate break. Now the turkey should be able to lay flat on a sheet pan equipped with a rack for rendering all the juice and allowing even heat distribution around the entire bird. The rack is key to use so heat distributes evenly. The turkey is now ready for a rub with your favorite seasonings, herbs, and spices.
I’m using a simple herb rub that includes fresh sage, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, black pepper, marjoram, basil and cumin. I place my ground rub all over the skin of the bird and on the exposed meat side, reaching under the breast skin as well. Now cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. All this work can be done the night prior to grilling ensuring all that is left to do, is the simple two-zone cooking. Remember, two-zone cooking involves turning only half the burners on and placing a metal smoker box of wood chunks on the hot grate or directly on the heat shield of the hot burners. Be sure you have the box and hardwood at the ready for this step.
With our prepared spatchcock turkey readied, the sheet pan is added to the grill on the no heat side and the lid is closed. I leave this to cook on its own for about two hours before returning to rotate the pan, checking the smoker box of wood chunks I’m using on the lit side of the grill for the great smoke flavor. Remember, the heat from the burners that are lit will radiate throughout the entire grill, grill-roasting the turkey while the heat stimulates the release of the smoke vapor from the wood.
Tasting Notes: If you prefer, you can cook the turkey directly on the grill grate. Just be sure to place a water pan under the grate to collect all the juices.
Ready in No Time
My nearly 22 lb. fresh turkey takes about 3-3/4 hours to reach a 165°F internal temperature. In total, I use about 8 double filet wood chunks for the entire process. The best part, I can do other things while the turkey cooks, then rest it for about 20 minutes before carving. Don’t forget about all the beautiful juice it produces in the pan as well. Make gravy, use it as au jus, or save it for producing stock. Spatchcock fresh turkey – the easiest method of no-fuss grilling and smoking of a turkey!
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SmokinLicious® Products used in this technique:
Wood Chunks- Double Filet
More blog topics you might enjoy:
-SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN IS THE WAY TO MOISTURE & HARDWOOD FOR FLAVOR
-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW
-THE NOT-SO-SMOKEY SMOKED TURKEY
-WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL
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