This past Thanksgiving, I debated whether or not to smoke a turkey, and well, the debate led me to go ahead and go through with it. It wasn’t much of a debate to be quiet honest with you as I love smoking all sorts of food. But time around instead of smoking a whole bird, I decided to spatchcock it. Spatchcock you ask? Well don’t say that word around high school students in your house because they will get a good laugh out of it. If you have never spatchcocked a chicken or turkey, I say it is a real must. The great thing about spatchcocking (removing the backbone) is a much quicker cooking time that always yields tender and juicy meat.
A goal of smoking any large turkey or chicken, at least in my opinion, is to do a quick brine. To brine, boil one liter of water along with 3/4 cup of salt, a couple of cloves of smashed garlic, any citrus, some black peppercorns, and fresh herbs. Once boiled, add about 4 cups of ice to it and let it completely cool. Once cooled, it is then time to submerge your turkey, and let it submerge for 2-3 hours. Once brined, removed it and pat it dry.
Let’s get started.
- 10-11 pound turkey
- your favorite wood for smoking, I used cherry chunks
- Poultry shears
- salt and pepper
- butter, optional
Place the turkey breast side down on your work surface, and with your poultry shears, cut along each side of the backbone. I find it easiest to start near the tail end of the bird and work your way up. This can take a bit of muscle, but it is well worth it. Once the backbone is removed, you can save it for stock if you want, hold each side of the turkey and open it up. Trim any excess fat if you want, then turn the turkey breast side up.
Using your palm, press down firmly on the breast bone to snap it. Repeat on the other breast bone. Now place this in your brining solution for at least 2-3 hours. Once brined, remove and pat dry.
Season with any salt and pepper, and rub any butter under the skin if you desire, then go prepare your smoker. I smoked mine on low, 225 degrees until your internal temperate in two different spots reaches 165 degrees.
Once cooked, remove, let it rest for about 15 minutes, then slice in.
The exterior has this awesome color unlike anything you get when roasted, and the cherry wood smoked meat is super moist and delicious. I will be spatchcocking on a regular basis now, and making this an annual tradition as well. Give this a shot next time your smoke a turkey or chicken, or heck even roast it. Hope you enjoy!