Cajun-Spiced Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe

Cajun-Spiced Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Taking a page out of the Louisiana playbook, this turkey is rubbed all over with a fragrant, lightly spicy mix that includes paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander seed, cumin, black pepper, onion and garlic powders, and both dried oregano and dried thyme. The result is a rich, deeply flavored bird with a gorgeous rust-colored skin. It's different, yet recognizably all-American in the best sort of way.

Why It Works

  • Spatchcocking the bird results in meat that cooks faster and more evenly, with better-browned, crispier skin.
  • A fragrant spice mixture adds tons of deep flavor.
  • A simple jus is all the accompaniment this bird needs.
  • Yield:Serves 10 to 12
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours

Ingredients

  • 3 large onions, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 quarts; 1 1/2 pounds; 680g), divided
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 quart; 12 ounces; 340g), divided
  • 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped (about 1 quart; 12 ounces; 340g), divided
  • 12 thyme sprigs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) ground coriander seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3g) dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3g) dried oregano
  • 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds total; 5.5 to 6.3kg), butterflied according to these instructions, backbone, neck, and giblets reserved
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 quarts (1.4L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions

  1. 1.

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scatter two-thirds of onions, carrots, celery, and thyme sprigs across pan. Place a wire rack directly on top of vegetables.

  2. 2.

    Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. Chop or crush to a powder.

  3. 3.

    Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub turkey all over with spice rub. Rub 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil all over turkey, then season liberally on all surfaces with salt and black pepper. (If using a brined, salted, or kosher turkey, omit salting step; see note.) Tuck wing tips behind back. Place turkey on top of rack, arranging so that it does not overlap the edges, pressing down on breastbone to flatten breasts slightly.

  4. 4.

    Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 150°F (66°C) and thighs register at least 165°F (74°C), about 1 hour 20 minutes.

  5. 5.

    While turkey roasts, make jus. Roughly chop reserved neck, backbone, and giblets. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add chopped turkey parts and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add remaining onions, carrots, and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and brown in spots, about 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock, remaining thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Simmer until reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-quart liquid measuring cup and discard solids. Skim off any fat from surface of broth. Season jus to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm.

  6. 6.

    When turkey is cooked, remove from oven and transfer rack to a new baking sheet. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Carefully pour any collected juices from pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Skim off excess fat and discard. Whisk juices into jus.

  7. 7.

    Carve turkey and serve with jus.