I don’t know about you, but right about now, almost everyone we know is complaining about running behind.
And that includes with Thanksgiving.
Seems like the holidays snuck up on us this year.
A bunch of people asked us for ideas for quick recipes for Turkey Day dinner.
We’re happy to oblige.
Make a moist roast turkey in about 90 minutes
SO. What if I told you that you could make a moist, tender, super flavorful roasted turkey this Thanksgiving in just about 90 minutes?
Sound impossible? I know. You just need to have the right bag of tricks.
And for this recipe, our bag of tricks relies heavily on spatchcocking.
What does “spatchcocking” your turkey mean?
When you spatchcock a bird, you cut out the backbone, then flatten it out. Like this:
Why in the world would you ever do this?
Spatchcocking dramatically reduces the cooking time. Think about it: You’re dealing with a big, thinner, even piece of meat…rather than a smaller, round, uneven piece of meat.
Because the meat is more even, you’ll wind up with a much moister, tender bird.
(With round turkeys, depending on how you roast it, the outside can get overdone before the inside is remotely cooked.)
You also maximize the amount of skin that’s exposed to the heat, so you’ll wind up with a lot crisper end product.
You can also easily apply the technique to chicken, duck, etc.
Sure, it’s an untraditional way to serve a Thanksgiving turkey, and it’s not the standard presentation that most peeps expect, but I’d be willing to bet that it’s so moist and delicious your guests don’t mind one bit.
Apples, cinnamon, and bacon, oh my!
This recipe is fragrant with apples, cinnamon, clove, and, of course, smoky bacon.
If you have dogs, they’ll most likely be transfixed from all the glorious smells in your kitchen.
Should you brine your turkey?
We didn’t this year, but you totally can.
When you brine a bird, you soak it in a mixture of salt, sugar, and water that’s spiked with herbs and spices.
Brining helps keep your bird moist and imparts flavor during roasting. Totally up to you.
For this recipe, though, spatchcocking itself really helps keep the bird moist.
The compound butter under the skin bastes it as it cooks, which also keeps it moist and adds a ton of flavor…so we didn’t feel like brining was necessary.
If you prefer, though, simply brine the turkey the way you normally would, then when you’re ready to roast, spatchcock him to get him ready for the oven.
Cinnamon, Bacon & Apple Roasted Turkey (Spatchcocked!)
1 lb. bacon, diced and fried, with grease reserved
Turkey with compound bacon butter
1 12-15 lb. turkey
3-4 Tablespoons fried bacon
3 Tablespoons applesauce
4 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup water
Apple walnut stuffing
2 firm red apples, cut into thick matchsticks
2 firm green apples, cut into thick matchsticks
Remainder of the fried bacon
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
2 – 3 Tablespoons of compound butter (made above)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Whole or sliced apples
Whole slices of fried bacon
Serves 6-8 people
Fry the bacon and set it aside
Dice the bacon and fry it until crisp in a hot pan, stirring frequently.
If you want to use a few whole slices to garnish the finished bird, fry them, as well.
Remove the bacon from the pan. Drain on paper towels.
Reserve the bacon grease to make the compound butter.
Set the bacon and the grease aside to cool.
If you wind up with a lot of bacon grease, you can pour it out into one or two wide, shallow dishes to cool faster.
Spatchcock the turkey
Grab your bird. Remove any guts and niblets inside (reserve for gravy or soup if that’s your thing).
Rinse under cold water to clean him off. Pat dry with paper towels.
Set the turkey breast-side down on a large cutting board.
With strong kitchen shears, cut all the way down one side of the turkey’s backbone.
Then cut down the other side of the backbone, to remove it completely.
(Pretty gruesome, I know. Toss the backbone in the freezer, it will make wonderful soup.)
Flip the turkey over so that he’s breast-side up on the cutting board.
With one or both hands, press down firmly in the middle of the turkey breast.
The goal is to crack the breastbone and flatten the bird out.
Depending on the size of your bird, this can take a little (or a lot) of oomph.
Flip his legs so that the thighs are facing up and the drumsticks are pointing out from the center of the bird, like this:
Set the bird aside and make the compound butter.
Make the compound butter
In the bowl of your food processor, put the following: About 3 Tablespoons of bacon grease (that you saved from frying the bacon above), the applesauce, butter, cinnamon, ground clove, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, and garlic salt.
Toss in 3 – 4 Tablespoons of the fried bacon, as well.
Save the rest of the bacon for the stuffing.
Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides a couple of times.
You want a relatively smooth, uniform paste that’s dotted with bits of bacon.
Season the turkey
Now that you’ve spatchcocked your turkey and made your compound butter, it’s time to get this baby in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. (I’d go 450 degrees F if you have a convection oven.)
Loosen the skin on the breast by wiggling your hands underneath it. Goal is to have a nice pouch.
Spread about 2/3 of the compound butter under the skin as evenly as you can. Don’t make yourself nuts with that.
Spread the last third of the compound butter all over the outside of the turkey.
Set your seasoned turkey on a rack on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Dust the top of the turkey with a little more cinnamon and garlic salt (or garlic powder, if you’re watching your salt intake).
Pour the water in the bottom of the pan.
(This will keep any fat from the turkey from scorching in the bottom of the pan.)
Roast the turkey
Pop him into your preheated, 475 degree F oven.
Roast for about 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned on top. Keep a good eye on him, your oven is hot, and you don’t want to go from brown to burned.
After about 15-20 minutes, cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil to keep the coating from burning.
Roast for roughly another 70-minutes (for a total of about 90-mins. in the oven from start to finish).
Remove the foil to crisp up the skin a little more in the last 10 minutes or so of roasting.
When he’s done, he’ll register about 160 degrees F on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
Yank him out of the oven.
Tent loosely with foil for about 15 minutes to let the juices go back into the meat.
Make the apple walnut stuffing
This cooks really fast. Really, you’re just heating it up.
Depending on how long you take to cut up the apples, you can make the stuffing while the turkey rests.
(If you’re slower on the chop, cut up your apples in advance, mix with a little lemon juice, and keep them in the fridge ’til you’re ready to make.)
Cut the apples into thick matchsticks.
Toss the walnuts in a dry pan with the salt over medium high heat.
Toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned.
Add the compound butter. Stir to melt.
Add the rest of the diced, fried bacon. Toss to coat.
Add the apples and spices. Stir to coat.
Cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat, for 5-7 minutes, until the apples just start to soften.
When they’re done, take the pan off the heat.
Plate up the turkey
Scoop the apple mixture out onto your serving platter and arrange it around the edges.
Set your turkey carefully on top.
Garnish with a whole apple or two, and/or a couple of full slices of bacon if you want.
I’ve had the little chop frills for a while, and couldn’t resist giving our turkey a pair of silly shoes.
Want more turkey recipes?
Try these our other turkey recipes, one for a bone-in breast, and one for a boneless breast (great for a smaller dinner).