We have a small circle of “foodie” friends who gather around dinner tables frequently to celebrate – anything! This week it was our turn and Paul and I decided we were hungry for Thanksgiving! So, the theme of Thanksgiving in June was parsed out, suggestions for contributions rolled in and we all got cooking!
We love to spatchcock a chicken. No more cardboard breasts and the thigh meat is thoroughly cooked. The skin is crispy, and the whole shebang is pulled out of the oven in ONE HOUR!!!! Mr. Turkey got the same treatment!
Spatchcock a 12-14 pounder. Put it into the refrigerator to dry out the skin a bit (this makes it even more crispy.) Chop some onion, carrot and celery (no need to peel) and spread them around the roasting pan. When it’s time to cook, douse the turkey with olive oil, salt and pepper and place into the pan, over and around the vegetables. Pour a small amount of chicken stock around the bird and shove the little guy into a 425 degree oven for 80 minutes!
Check occasionally to see if it needs a baste or if you need to add a drop more of chicken stock. When the meat thermometer reads 160-165 (it continues to cook when it’s resting out of the oven) remove and set aside on a cutting board for at least twenty minutes, if not a bit more. Smash the pan vegetables, then strain them with the liquids for your gravy base!
Our contribution to the dinner was the turkey and gravy, my famous pomegranate gelatin mold (with a substitution of Morello cherries since pomegranates and their seeds are out of season) and a new addition to the repertoire: shaved Brussels sprouts sautéed in pancetta. Added to a table bursting with goodness were mashed potatoes flavored with goat cheese, luscious dressing, chunky maple-glazed carrots, and for dessert – heavenly trifle! Leftovers? Barely enough for a light dinner tonight!
Why wait for November to share one of the most delightful, comforting meals we Americans salivate over? Get a jump on November and start your tradition of Thanksgiving in June!
Spatchcock a Turkey
No, it’s not a dirty word…. Just a special way to prepare a turkey or chicken for roasting or grilling. Originally, a spatchcock chicken (for our purposes, a turkey) was a young male. Removing the chicken’s backbone renders it “spatchcocked” and allows it to be lain flat for roasting. This allows the breast and the legs to be done at the same time, eliminating the ever-present dried out chicken breast!
Some cooks also remove the sternum making it easier to lay flat. But simply cutting away the backbone is enough to define a spatchcocked chicken. Try it, and you’ll never roast a chicken the old way again. Succulent breast meat, juicy thighs and legs, crispy skin all around – a perfect dinner!
Lay the bird on the counter, breast side down, and legs to the front, facing you.
Have a sharp boning knife and chicken scissors, or a very sturdy pair of scissors, ready. Cut one side of the backbone completely through, from front to rear. Turn the bird around and cut the other side. You may need the knife to separate the bone from the flesh.
Remove the little bones on either side of the backbone and the breastbone to further clean it of bones. This goes beyond the definition of spatchcocking, but leaves you with a bird that has no little bones that can get caught in your throat.
Open the bird up like a book and find the diamond-shaped breast bone. With a paring knife, cut along both sides of the breast bone. Run your fingers along either side, then just pull it out. You might need the kitchen shears or paring knife to carve it away from the breast meat beneath.
Punch the bird with your flat hand, adding a little more flatness to the carcass.
Trim away any excess fat from either side of the bird and it’s ready to cook in the oven, on the spit or on the grill.
HINT: Let it rest in the refrigerator after surgery. It dries it out and gives a crispier skin.
Freeze the bones you’ve removed and pull them out when making stock.