It was mighty frigid for Turkey Day this year, so I went with this dead-simple spatchcocked turkey recipe that maximized the tender crispiness and minimized the amount of time that I had to spend outside shivering.
1 whole fresh turkey (a 10-pound kosher bird in this case)
2 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning or rub (I used Penzey’s)
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 tablespoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon baking powder
Combine the salt, poultry seasoning, sugar, Chesapeake Bay seasoning, and baking powder in a shaker jar.
Clean and rinse the turkey, then pat it dry. Cut off the tail and any large bits of fat or loose skin (save along with the neck, backbone, and giblets for making gravy).
Place the bird on a cutting board with the breast side down and the back end facing you. Spatchcock (butterfly) the bird by cutting through the ribs on one side of the backbone with either a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. The bottom couple of ribs are the worst to cut through. Once you are through those it goes pretty easily. Repeat on the other side and remove the backbone.
Open up the bird and make a small slice along the center of the keel bone. Press down on the outer edges of the breast until you hear the keel bone crack and the bird lies flat.
Rub both sides of the bird with the rub, making sure to work some under the skin. Refrigerate the turkey for a least an hour (overnight is best) uncovered to let the rub do its job and to dry out the skin a little.
Set your grill up for an indirect cook over medium heat (350°F). On the Big Green Egg this means using about half a fire box full of lump charcoal, an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat, and a drip pan to catch the fat.
Put the turkey on the grill skin side up and close the lid. Cook undisturbed for 1 hour. Check and rotate the grill if necessary to even out any hot spots. Close the lid and cook until the turkey reaches 160°F in the breast. Figure about 10 minutes per pound total cooking time. This 10-pound bird was done in just under 2 hours.
To carve, cut the back quarters away from the body at the hip joint. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs. Locate the bone that runs the length of the thigh and remove the meat on either side. Leave at least one of the drumsticks intact because there’s something wonderfully primal about eating one of these with your bare hands.
Find the joint connecting the wing and breast, and cut through it. Remove both wings. Cut the breast meat into two pieces, slicing along either side of breastbone. Slice the breast meat across the grain.
Spatchcocking is a great way to grill any kind of poultry, but it makes cooking a turkey particularly easy and tasty. The bird cooks faster and more evenly so you don’t have to worry that the breasts will dry out before the dark meat is done.
I added a little baking powder the my rub to help crisp the skin and it worked wonders. The skin was so crisp that it practically crackled when I carved the breast.