I’ve certainly cooked my share of turkeys on the grill. Matter-of-fact in this column several years ago I endorsed cutting up your whole turkey and grilling it in pieces to produce the best results. My thinking on this issue is simple: a whole turkey, especially those raised for American Thanksgiving and sold in grocery stores, has an extra large breast section of white meat. White meat cooks faster than dark meat and when you cook the entire bird in the oven – generally the white meat is finished long before the dark meat and as a result it overcooks and dries out. Cut it up – cook it according to the meat and you have a better meal.
That’s what I used to say.
In 2007 Char-Broil introduced The Big Easy oil-less infrared turkey fryer and everything changed. I’ve written many posts about this cooker and you’ve most likely seen news reports in your town – because it’s getting a lot of attention. No hot oil to worry about, healthy oil-less cooking, easy to use and the list goes on. The turkey comes out absolutely brown and crispy skin wonderful and the meat inside is juicy juicy juicy!
But this post isn’t about that great little infrared cooker. It’s about a recipe I crafted by a cook I really admire. Mark Bittman is writer for the New York Times and the author of several cookbooks. Over the years I’ve found his recipes are reasonably accurate and can be created by most cooks. What with all the turkey recipes I’ve been reading and writing of late the headline in the story really caught my attention: Mark Bittman’s 45-Minute Turkey. I couldn’t resist reading it. So what is his secret method?
The funny sounding term that means removing the backbone and spreading open the whole bird. Here’s a post I wrote about the technique earlier this year: Grilled Whole Chicken Under Bricks I wanted to pass it along to you as one more idea you may wish to consider for preparing your holiday meal outside this year!
Here is his recipe followed by a link to the recipe for spatchcocked chicken on the grill. Between the two of these I hope they inspire you to have a wonderful meal!
Mark Bittman’s 45 Minute Roast Turkey
MAKES: At least 10 servings
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes
One 8- to 12-pound turkey
10 or more garlic cloves, lightly crushed
Several sprigs fresh tarragon or thyme or several pinches dried
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or melted butte
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 450° F. Put the turkey on a stable cutting board, breast side down, and cut out the backbone (use a heavy knife to cut on each side of the backbone, cutting from front to rear). Turn the bird over and press on it to flatten. Put it breast side up in a roasting pan that will accommodate it (a slightly snug fit is okay). The wings should partially cover the breasts, and the legs should protrude a bit.
2. Tuck the garlic and the herb under the bird and in the nooks of the wings and legs. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Roast for 20 minutes, undisturbed. By this time the bird should be browning; remove it from the oven, baste with the pan juices, and return it to the oven. Reduce the heat to 400°F (or 350°F if it seems to be browning very quickly).
4. Begin to check the bird’s temperature about 15 minutes later (10 minutes if the bird is on the small side). It is done when the thigh meat measures 155-165°F on an instant-read meat thermometer; check it in a couple of places.
5. Let the bird rest for a few minutes before carving, then serve with the garlic cloves and pan juices. (Or make gravy.) Or serve at room temperature.
I have done this several times since first reading this article several years ago and I recommend it to you as a very good way to prepare a whole bird. After grilling you can kinda-sorta fold the bird back together for a presentation if you like to do such things ~ Welcome to the Cookout! Barry CB Martin