Thanksgiving is days away—what’s REALLY the best way to cook a turkey?
From deep frying and salt water brining to oven roasting and smoking, there are many different ways to cook a turkey, and it can be difficult to know what tried-and-true method is ultimately best. While the determination of “best” sometimes depends on the individual’s tastes, there are methods that have been proven to produce more moist and flavorful meat.
DOWN TO A SCIENCE
In 2016, the Washington Post wrote an article entitled, “Dear Science, what’s the best way to cook a turkey?” The article listed spatchcocking as one of the newest, most popular and most effective ways to cook your Thanksgiving bird. The overall theory presented is that by butterflying the turkey, you can better ensure that each and every section of it is cooked correctly, and that none of the smaller pieces (for example the thigh) become overcooked while the larger pieces (for example the breast) could be undercooked and tough.
The large, rounded and plump shape of a turkey makes it difficult to achieve an even roast—which is why butterflying the meat (and spatchcocking) helps to make an even, perfect roast more easily achievable. It helps to ensure that your Thanksgiving turkey will be perfectly tender and juicy—not dry or chewy. The article presents this theory in a much more scientific manner, of course, going on to explain the mathematical equations that help keep temperatures more even across the large piece of meat. Not only does it make the meal cook more evenly, it also helps it to cook faster. Food scientists are quoted in the article, calling the method “ideal.”
ALL THE DETAILS
So, how do you spatchcock a turkey? We’ve broken down the process:
Step 1 – Cut along each side of the bird’s backbone after placing the turkey on a cutting board with the breast side down.
Step 2 – Remove the backbone and press the turkey down to flatten it out as much as possible.
Step 3 – Add herbs and seasoning, or paint the exterior of the turkey with a mixture of olive oil, butter seasonings and herbs.
Step 4 – Cook the turkey by taking it out of the fridge and allowing it to come to room temperature before being put into the oven. Typically, you’ll want to roast the turkey about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Test for the perfect roast by placing a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and ensuring that it is 170-175 degrees.
Step 5 – Let the meat rest! This is a VERY important step. Let your turkey rest for about 20 minutes after removing it from the oven. This will help it to cool a bit. If you slice a hot turkey, all of the steam will escape, taking with it all of the moisture. Allowing it to cool down more helps to ensure that your turkey will be more juicy and flavorful.
Have you tired to spatchcock a turkey before? Do you have a favorite turkey cooking method that never lets you down? We’d love to hear from you—fill us in below!