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The Quickest, Juiciest Turkey Recipe

Is this the perfect turkey recipe? The truth is, there is no one best way to cook a turkey, but this method comes close. Juicy thigh and breast meat, a subtle note of garlic butter and loads of crispy skin make this recipe a festive season heavy hitter. 

Succulent, perfectly cooked spatchcock turkey

As the holidays approach, the anticipation of a succulent, perfectly cooked turkey takes centre stage. There are countless ways to tackle the task, but if you’re after a no-nonsense, quick-and-easy route to juicy meat and ultra-crisp skin, spatchcocking is the secret ingredient. This turkey recipe will walk you through the process, ensuring that your turkey steals the show with even cooking, faster roasting, and flavour-packed results.

The Spatchcocking Revolution: The Sectret to the Best Turkey Recipe

Let’s address the elephant in the room: What on earth is spatchcocking? Well, as far as turkey recipes go, it’s a game-changer.

Essentially, spatchcocking involves removing the backbone of the turkey, transforming it into a flattened wonder that cooks more evenly, more quickly, and tastes better. If wielding a knife isn’t your thing, fret not; your friendly butcher can take care of spatchcocking for you.

The benefits of spatchcocking include:

  • Even cooking: The flattened turkey ensures that both the light and dark meat reach their optimal cooked temperatures simultaneously.
  • Juicier meat: With the bird spread out, the juices circulate more evenly, keeping every bite moist and flavourful.
  • Crisper skin: The skin, now all on top, in one even layer, crisps up beautifully during roasting, delivering a symphony of crunch with every mouthful.
  • Faster cooking: A spatchcocked turkey takes less time in the oven, making it the ideal choice for those who want their feast pronto.

Prepping the Turkey: A Symphony of Flavour

One to two days before cooking: Before this turkey recipe’s magic begins, set aside any squeamish feelings and prepare your turkey. Follow our steps for spatchcocking or order it already spatchcocked. Save the bone trimmings for our flavour-packed gravy or freeze them for future culinary adventures.

Dry bringing: No, it’s not a fancy dance move. Dry brining involves rubbing the turkey with a mixture of salt and spices. Pop it onto a tray, leave it uncovered in the fridge for one to two days, and let the skin dry out for a roasting masterpiece.

Garlic butter under the skin: Getting the herbed garlic butter under the turkey skin ensures maximum flavour infusion and a lusciously moist bird. So knuckle down and get it into every joint.

Room temperature rest: On the big day, let your turkey sit out for one to two hours to reach room temperature. Placing it spatchcocked onto a rack over a pan of seasonal veggies ensures an even cook.

Pan drippings magic: Elevate your turkey game by adding chopped vegetables and a splash of water beneath the roasting turkey. This not only prevents burning but also adds aroma and flavour to the pan drippings, perfect for enhancing your gravy. Looking for a great gravy recipe- find ours here!

Quick and Juicy Oven Baked Turkey

The Maillard Reaction: A Flavourful Alchemy

The Maillard reaction is the culinary magic that happens when proteins and sugars in meat and vegetables react during cooking. 

It is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods their characteristic flavour and colour. It occurs when these compounds are subjected to heat, resulting in a complex series of reactions that create the rich, savory flavours and brown hues in foods like roasted vegetables, toasted bread, and roast meat.

This process creates the golden-brown crust on your turkey and imparts a depth of flavour to your vegetables, elevating your entire roast.

Serving, Sides, and Leftovers

Carving a spatchcocked turkey is a breeze. Follow the flattened shape, and separate the breast and thigh meat for an impressive presentation.

For sensational seasonal sides to accompany this turkey recipe, I recommend:

 

Don’t let those leftovers go to waste! From turkey sandwiches to hearty soups, the options are endless. And transform the turkey carcass and bone trimmings into a rich homemade stock for future soups or stews. Waste not, want not!

Loved this Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe? Tell us about it!

We want to know if you agree that this is the best turkey recipe. If you try it, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see your marvelous chocolate ganache masterpiece.

The perfect turkey recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this gluten-free

This incredible turkey recipe is naturally gluten free!

Can this turkey recipe be made ahead of time?

It can, but by spatchcocking the turkey it cooks much faster than traditional methods.
If opting to make this ahead of time, I would advise cooking it in the morning on the day of serving, as storing the meat in the fridge will alter the texture and succulence. Cook and carve the turkey as directed, then place in a roasting tin, cover in pan juices to keep the turkey moist, and cover in foil. Heat in a low ovencovered in the juices until warmed through. Note the skin will lose its crisp. 

What is brining?

Brining is a culinary technique that involves soaking meat in a solution of water, salt, sugar, and sometimes additional flavourings before cooking. This process is designed to enhance the flavour, tenderness, and moisture content of the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavourful end product. In our recipe we use dry brining. This is my preferred method, as it yields great results, without too much fuss. Personally I find the skin is crispier with this method.

What is Wet Brining?

Wet brining involves submerging the turkey (or other meats) in a solution of water, salt, sugar, and various flavorings for an extended period, typically 12 to 24 hours. The solution works its way into the meat through osmosis, enhancing moisture retention and flavour.

Benefits include:

  • Moisture tetention: The salt in the brine helps the turkey retain more moisture during the cooking process, resulting in juicier meat.
  • Flavour infusion: The extended soaking in the brine allows the turkey to absorb the flavours of the added ingredients, such as herbs, spices, and aromatics, enhancing its taste.
  • Texture improvement: Wet brining can improve the texture of the meat, making it more tender and less prone to dryness.
 
What is Dry Brining?

Dry brining, also known as salt curing or pre-salting, involves rubbing the turkey with a mixture of salt and sometimes other seasonings. The turkey is then left uncovered in the refrigerator for an extended period, allowing the salt to penetrate the meat.

Benefits include:

  • Convenience: Dry brining is often considered more convenient than wet brining. There’s no need for a large container or excess liquid, making it easier to manage.
  • Crispier skin: The dry environment in the refrigerator helps to dry out the turkey’s skin, promoting crispiness during roasting. This is particularly beneficial for those who enjoy a golden-brown, crunchy skin.
  • Improved flavour: Similar to wet brining, dry brining enhances the turkey’s flavor by allowing the salt and other seasonings to permeate the meat. The concentration of flavours can be more pronounced in dry brining.
  • Reduced drip loss: Dry brining can lead to less drip loss during cooking compared to wet brining, as the turkey hasn’t absorbed excess water.

 

Why is it necessary to let the turkey rest before carving?
Allowing the turkey to rest is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it allows the juices within the meat to redistribute, ensuring a moist and flavorful bird. Additionally, resting helps the internal temperature of the turkey to stabilize, resulting in more even cooking.

How long should I let the turkey rest?
It’s generally recommended to let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes. This short resting period allows the juices to settle without the turkey losing too much heat.

Can I skip the resting step and carve the turkey immediately?
While it’s tempting, carving the turkey immediately can lead to juices escaping, leaving the meat drier. Patience during the resting process is rewarded with a more succulent and enjoyable turkey.

What can I do to keep the turkey warm while it’s resting?
To keep the turkey warm during the resting phase, you can tent it loosely with aluminium foil or place it in a warming drawer. This helps to maintain the optimal serving temperature without overcooking the meat.

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The perfect turkey recipe

Quickest, juiciest turkey recipe


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  • Author: Jess Bunn

Description

This spatchcocked turkey recipe is as close to perfect as any roast turkey recipe can be. It cooks much faster, has crispier skin, and more succulent meat.


Ingredients

Units
  • 1 medium turkey
  • Salt and pepper to cover
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 celery stalks
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 head garlic

Garlic butter

  • 115g or 1 stick butter
  • Small handful or 10g fresh parsley
  • Small handful or 10g fresh thyme
  • 5g fresh sage
  • 3 large garlic cloves

Instructions

Preparing the turkey

  1. Thawing: If the turkey is frozen, allow 2 – 3 days for it to thaw fully in the fridge, depending on its size.
  2. Spatchcocking: Lay the turkey breast-side down on a cutting board. Use kitchen shears or a robust boning knife to cut along one side of the backbone from the tail end to the neck end. Repeat on the other side to fully remove the backbone.
  3. Open the turkey like a book, exposing the cavity. Flip the turkey over, breast-side up, and press down hard on the breastbone until you hear a crack to flatten it.
  4. Optionally, remove a portion of the wing for making stock. Pull the wing out from the bird, and slice into the cartilage between the drumette and the wingette. Remove the wingette and wong tip, and set this aside for stock. Want a perfect gravy recipe, to go with your perfect turkey? Click here!
  5. Find the wishbone at the neck end, make a small incision along the sides, and cut it away. Set all turkey bone trimmings aside for making gravy or freeze for later use.
  6. Dry brining: Generously cover the turkey inside and out with fine sea salt or kosher salt and finely ground black pepper. Place the turkey on a tray and leave it uncovered in the fridge for 1 – 2 days before roasting to dry out the skin and season.

On the day of cooking

  1. Vegetable bed: On the day of cooking, peel and chop carrots and onions into a rough dice, dice up celery, and halve the head of garlic. Place all vegetables on a large sheet pan, nestle in the garlic bulb, but side up, scatter thyme sprigs over the veg, and place a metal rack on top.
  2. Preparation: Remove the turkey from the fridge, open it up like a book, and splay it out on the metal rack with the legs pointing out. Ideally, allow the turkey to sit out for 1-2 hours to come to room temperature for more even cooking.
  3. Once you get close to cooking time, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F

Garlic butter:

  1. Food processor method: In a food processor, combine peeled garlic, picked thyme leaves, sage, parsley, and softened butter to make garlic butter.
  2. Hand-chopped method: Very finely chop the parsley, thyme, sage, and garlic. Mix the chopped herbs and garlic into softened butter in a bowl, until well combined.

Buttering the turkey

  1. Push your hands under the turkey skin around the thighs and breast, smear the garlic butter under the skin, and massage it into all the crevices. Melt any remaining butter, drizzle in a little neutral oil, and smear it over the turkey skin. There is no need to season your turkey again after the dry brine

Roasting the turkey

  1. Place the turkey in the preheated 200°C/400°F oven and cook for about 60-80 minutes, or until the skin is golden and the thickest part of the thigh reaches 73°C/165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Alternatively, make a small incision in the thigh; if the juices run clear without any pink or blood, the turkey is cooked through.
  2. You can increase the temperature to  230°C/480°F for the last 15 minutes of cooking, once the thighs reach  60°C/140°F, if you want to crisp the skin of the turkey further.
  3. Should the turkey juices and veg in the roasting tray start to catch and burn simply add a splash of water into the roasting dish, and continue cooking as instructed.
  4. Remove the turkey from the oven and set it aside on a new tray in a tent of foil or in a warming drawer for 20 minutes to rest before carving.
  5. Remove the rack from the roasting tray. Place a sieve over a bowl, then tip in the vegetables, garlic and turkey pan juices. Use these juices to enrich your gravy. The turkey juices, hints of herby garlic butter and caramelized vegetables will really add something special to your sauce. Find our ultimate gravy recipe here!

Carving and serving

  1. Carve the turkey and serve with your favourite sides.
  2. The carcass can be broken down and used to make stock. Head to our gravy recipe, for the low down on making perfect stock every time, whatever appliance you have at hand.
  • Category: Mains
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