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SmallBBQr

Still Doing Turkey the "Old" Way? 21 Pound Turkey Under 2 Hours!

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We had an early Xmas dinner this year for a few reasons, but bottom line is I got asked to do the turkey.  A beautiful 21 pound bird.

 

I've had so much success with spatchcock chicken, I did a little research on doing this with turkey, and much to the horror of my wife, decided to give it a go (and the results were spectacular).

 

I followed the general procedure shown in the YouTube video below for the cooking - placing the spatchcocked bird on a wire rack over top aromatics, but I also did half the bird in the Keg, on top of aromatics in my 17" cast iron pan.  450 degrees for about 5 minutes per pound, until the breast was 150.  The timing was almost perfect for both the oven and Keg.

 

(Please ignore the ugly dissected bird in parts - I was originally going to cook dark pieces on one tray and white on another before deciding to go 50% kamado)

 

IMG_20191222_143144.thumb.jpg.d286ee2a22086590de6995c908bb7aac.jpg

 

 

Instead of the video prep process of boiling water/dry brine, I used a full water brine for the bird.  Thinking I would not get too many drippings, I also spatchcocked the bird a day early, and used the back, neck, and parts (roasted well with veggies etc) to make a huge pot of turkey stock and gravy the day before we ate.  That was nice relaxed process and took away any stress in making about a gallon of gravy the day of...

 

The nicest part...I put the turkey halves in the brine at about 8:00am the day of the cook, took them out at around 2:00pm, dried off the turkey and let it rest at room temp until 4:00pm.  Got the Keg heated up to 550 (knowing it would drop putting in a huge cast iron pan and bird) and oven pre-heated to 450.

 

At 4:00pm, put in the turkey in both Keg and oven.  Almost exactly to schedule, the breasts were 150 degrees just over 1.5 hours later.  It was quite amusing and everyone was in shock (especially the "old" people) as they came in and saw the raw turkey on the counter as 4:00 approached.  Many said we would not be eating until midnight!!   Took both cooked halves out to rest around 5:30  (yes, 21 pound turkey cooked in 1.5 hours!!), and just got all the sides ready over the next 1.5 hours as we chatted, drank, ate appies etc....complete low stress cooking.

 

I moved the turkey from the cast iron pan to rest, gave it a rough scrape, and then left it in the kamado at 400 degrees or so.  I had pre-chopped 2 pounds of brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, shallots etc and sauteed them all in there just before eating.  Nice little charring, a big hit.

 

We ate at 7:00pm and the turkey was still too hot inside to use bare hands to pull apart (resting always concerns my wife as she thinks it will get cold!) amazingly moist and tender.  Dark meat just pulled easily off the bones.  I keep telling her that resting meat stays quite hot, but at serving time does NOT need to be hot out of the oven...as long as the gravy is piping hot....she still can't seem to get that.  Breast meat was perfect - so moist and tender.

 

General notes:

  • I think I converted at least 10 people to spatchcock cooking and slow cooker stuffing.
  • There was a "fight" over the charred veggies from under the bird (carrots, celery, onion and aromatic herbs) - next time I'm going to add even more, and serve them as a additional side...they were fantastic!!
  • There was very few dripping from the turkey...the aromatic veggies soaked up some and what little there was left (maybe a cup), I added to the gravy.  Don't expect much if you go this route.
  • I didn't add any smoking chunks to the kamado half, and the taste difference between oven and kamado was hardly noticeable.  Might add some smoke next time to get some greater variance.
  • Skin was super crisp and rendered even without the boiling water treatment shown in the video...I would not bother as I don't see how it could be any better than it was.
  • We made a slow-cooker stuffing instead of in the bird.  Pork sausage, cubes, brown sugar, turkey/chick broth, onions, etc. etc.  Came out great.  Another "wife" concern the stuffing would not be as good...but it was.  It was a bit drier by the recipe, but we added some extra stock (made the day before) to get it nice and moist the way she liked it.  Had great "in bird" flavor.  Also had many people asking for that recipe.
  • Overall process - making gravy the day ahead etc, takes so much stress out of a normally crazy day.
  • Unless you want the "presentation" part of a traditionally cooked bird, I would never do it another way again.

 

Here's the general video I took the cooking process from....

 

 

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Yup, great in a pinch, with good flavour I am sure, but there is nothing like the “Smoke and Awe factor” of putting one of these onto a platter and presenting it to the table.

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Either way, wishing you and yours a great meal and a very merry Christmas!

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Congrats to both of you for pulling off great cooks and showing that there are definitely more than a few right ways to enjoy our hobby of cooking.

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4 minutes ago, T Yelta said:

Congrats to both of you for pulling off great cooks and showing that there are definitely more than a few right ways to enjoy our hobby of cooking.


thanks but my photo was from last year or the year before.  See my other posting for this years turkey.  All the best!

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I went whole bird yesterday because I am pretty sure ours would have stretched out too far on the Akorn, if spatchcocked. Still came out great. 

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! 

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