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How To Spatchcock A Turkey

How To Spatchcock A Turkey

How (and Why) to Spatchcock a Turkey

If you’ve never tried spatchcocking a turkey—that is, cutting out its backbone and opening it flat—then this just might be the year to try. Spatchcocking, which you can also do with a whole chicken, helps the bird cook quicker and more evenly. And with all that skin exposed to the heat, you get optimum crispness. Best of all, when cooking a spatchcocked turkey on your Traeger grill, more of the meat will be exposed to the smoke giving you next-level wood-fired flavor. Finally, a spatchcocked bird is easier to maneuver than a whole bird, and carving is a breeze.

Select the Right Tools for Spatchcocking

Spatchcocking is very easy to do but only if you’re using strong kitchen scissors or shears, like Traeger BBQ Shears. Trust us on this one. With a strong pair of scissors or poultry shears, cutting out the backbone takes little effort. While you may technically be able to cut it out with a knife, it will be much more awkward and difficult. A cutting board is also handy, but since you are not using a knife, you can spatchcock your turkey on a large-rimmed baking sheet.

3 Easy Steps to Spatchcocking a Turkey

  1. Place the turkey on a cutting board and position its breast side down. Using kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove it. (Reserve it for making stock if you like.)

  2. Open the turkey up and remove the giblets if necessary. (Reserve for gravy or stock if desired.)

  3. Flip the turkey over so that its breast side up and press down hard on the breast to crack the breastbone and flatten the turkey somewhat.

How to Cook a Spatchcocked Turkey

As with a whole turkey, spatchcocked turkeys can be cooked in several different ways from roasting it to smoking it low and slow. And they can be seasoned in all manners, too, from simple salt and pepper to an elaborate wet or dry brine. While it’s best to follow a recipe, below are basic methods for roasting and smoking a spatchcocked turkey.

How to Roast a Spatchcocked Turkey

  • Heat your Traeger to 400°F.
  • Season the bird with either salt and pepper or a seasoning of your choice. Tuck the wings under and be sure the thighs are positioned meaty side up.
  • Insert a leave-in meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, near the neck but not touching the breastbone. (Alternatively, you can check the temperature in the thickest part of the breast with an instant-read thermometer toward the end of the cooking time.)
  • Place the turkey breast side up directly on the grill grate and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 300°F and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. The time will vary depending on the size of the turkey. Figure between 3 and 4 hours for an 18-pound bird.
  • Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.

How to Smoke a Spatchcocked Turkey

  • If desired brine your turkey using Traeger’s Orange Brine and Turkey Rub Kit.
  • Heat the Traeger to 190°F using Super Smoke.
  • Tuck the wings under and be sure the thighs are positioned meaty side up.
  • Insert a leave-in meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, near the neck but not touching the breastbone. (Alternatively, you can check the temperature in the thickest part of the breast with an instant-read thermometer toward the end of the cooking time.) [I added this to match the picture]
  • Place the turkey breast side up directly on the grill grate and smoke for 1 hour.
  • Increase the heat to 350°F and cook until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165° The time will vary depending on the size of the turkey.
  • Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.

How to Carve a Spatchcocked Turkey

Carving a spatchcocked turkey is like carving a whole turkey but easier because the bird is splayed, and you can see and easily access all the joints.

  • Remove the legs by first slicing the skin between where the leg and breast meet. Continue slicing down to the cutting board to remove the thigh and leg in one piece. Cut through the joint where the drumstick connects to the thigh and transfer the pieces to your platter. Repeat on the other side.
  • Remove the wings by cutting through the joint connecting the wing to the body and add them to the platter.
  • Remove each breast half by cutting down both sides of the breastbone and peeling the breast away from the bone in one piece. Place on the cutting board and slice across the grain to keep the skin intact.

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