If you’re planning on cooking a large turkey for Thanksgiving – or if you are short on time – you might want to check out this this Spatchcock Smoked Turkey method.
Spatchcocking or removing the backbone is great for larger birds. It allows the turkey to lay flat on the cooking grate and helps the meat cook more evenly. It’s also great if you’re limited on shelf space in your smoker.
To spatchcock a whole turkey first remove the tail; flip the bird breast side down and grab a pair of kitchen shears. Make a cut along one side of the backbone with the shears from the bottom to the top of the spine.
Repeat the same cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it. Use a sharp knife to separate the wish bone and press down on the turkey. It will spread out and lay flat. At this point you can also trim away any fat or sinew inside the cavity.
Dry the cavity or bone side of the turkey with paper towel, spray with olive oil cooking spray, and season the bird with your favorite dry rub. I use a layer of Killer Hogs AP Rub followed by Swine Life Mississippi Grind. Flip the turkey over skin-side up and repeat the same process.
To get more flavor into the meat I use an injection. Mix I level scoop of Butcher’s Bird Booster with 2 cups of cold water and wisk. You can substitute your favorite injection as well.
To cook the turkey I’m using my Memphis Wood Fire pellet smokers running pecan pellets for flavor. Any smoker will do the job just run it at 275-300⁰ the entire cook.
Place the turkey breast/skin-side up on the cooking rack and arrange the legs and wings so the bird remains as flat as possible. Touch up any areas that need it with rub and smoke for 1 hour.
At this point start basting the skin as needed. In a small pot melt a stick of butter with a bundle of poultry herbs and a few cloves of garlic. Drizzle this mixture over the skin to help it brown.
It will eventually start to turn a beautiful golden brown color. To keep it from getting too dark lay a couple pieces of aluminum foil over the bird (don’t wrap it tight). The turkey is done when a probe thermometer reads 165⁰ in the thickest portion of the breast. At this point carefully remove the turkey from the smoker and rest loosely covered for 5-10 minutes before carving.
The skin on this turkey turned out incredible. The savory seasonings and melted butter create the perfect bite through crust and the meat was dripping with juice after I carved it. Give this spatchcock technique a try the next time you smoke a turkey.
Thaw frozen turkey in refrigerator for 5 days; remove neck and giblet bag, rinse, and pat dry with paper towel.
Remove the tail with a sharp knife, flip the turkey breast side down and cut along each side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Discard backbone and use a sharp knife to cut through the breast bone (wish-bone) allowing the turkey to lay flat.
Trim away and sinew or fat from the bone side of the turkey and dry the cavity with paper towel. Spray with Olive Oil cooking spray and season with a layer of AP and MS Grind rubs.
Flip the turkey over breast/skin side up; use paper towel to completely dry the skin and spray with olive oil cooking spray; season the skin side with AP followed by MS Grind rubs.
Mix the Butchers injection with 2 cups of water. Inject the breast, thighs, legs, and wings with the mixture.
Prepare smoker for indirect cooking using your favorite wood or smoking pellets for flavor. The smoker should be at 275-300⁰ the entire cook.
Place turkey skin side up on the smoker. Tuck the wings and arrange the legs so the bird lays flat on the rack. Add additional MS Grind as needed to cover the places where touched.
Smoke the turkey for 1 hour then baste. Heat the butter with the herbs and garlic in a small pot until melted; keep warm. Use a basting brush to drizzle the melted butter mixture over the skin as the turkey cooks.
Cook the turkey until a probe thermometer reads 165⁰ in the thickest part of the breast. Rest the turkey for 5-10 minutes and cut into desired portions.