Spatchcocked Apple Cider Bourbon Turkey with Honey Butter Glaze brings tender, juicy, aromatic herbs together with a bourbon-cider spiked brine that is totally irresistible. The brine, coupled with spatchcocking, yields a turkey that is moist, and perfectly roasted, and then it's topped with a honey butter glaze.
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and I wanted to change up our traditional turkey recipe this year. For Traeger's fans, you can also use Traeger's Pork & Poultry Seasoning. This turkey was so delicious, two of us put a serious dent in it (it was a test run). Warm flavors emanate from the bourbon and make this turkey so unique. Don't be intimidated by the idea of brining, brining is your friend.
Spatchcocked Apple Cider Bourbon Turkey with Honey Butter Glaze:
What is the purpose of brining Turkey?
First, let's define brining. Brining is the process of submerging a cut of meat into a solution of salt and water. It adds flavor, seasons the meat from the inside out, and it also changes the meat's physical nature. The salt in a brine denatures the meat's proteins to allow the cells to retain more moisture. So basically, all you have to do here is modify the molecular structure of your turkey. Easy, right? The hardest part of brining is planning out the space you need and the container you're using.
Actually, it really IS easier than it all sounds. For the purpose of not getting intimidated, let's pretend the brine is actually just a marinade. In a large stockpot or food-grade 5 gallon bucket (with lid): combine hot water, heated apple cider, soy sauce, kosher salt, bourbon, brown sugar, honey, onion, rosemary sprigs, black peppercorn, whole cloves, and chicken base. Stir ingredients until salt and sugars have dissolved then stir in ice to help cool down the brine. Clean and trim your turkey.
Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate it overnight. Just walk away and forget about it until morning. (If the turkey is struggling to submerge, weigh it down with a bag of ice). If the container doesn't fit in your refrigerator, place the turkey (in the brine container) in a large cooler surrounded with bags of ice.
In the morning (or sometime the next day) remove turkey from the brine and pat it dry, and then discard the brine.
Spatchcocking a Turkey:
First of all, I'd be willing to bet (because I was guilty of this not too long ago) a lot of people are not familiar with the term "spatchcocking." Spatchcocking means "dressed and split." Spatchcocking occurs before the turkey is cooked. The turkey is split which means more of the surface is cooked to a crisp. Not only will spatchcocked turkey ensure plenty of crisp skin (since virtually all of it is out in the open), this method simplifies cooking the white and dark meat evenly. This means even the breast will stay juicy. It cuts down on the total cooking time too, always a plus.
To Spatchcock (split) the Turkey: using a large sharp knife or sheers, cut the turkey open along the backbone. Cut on both sides of the backbone, through the ribs, and then remove the backbone. After you remove the backbone, split the breastbone to spread the turkey out flat. This technique will allow it to roast evenly.
Prepare to Roast the Turkey:
Prepare the honey butter glaze. Stir the melted butter and honey constantly. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan and brush the honey butter glaze on the top and bottom of turkey. Generously season the turkey with the Traeger pork & poultry rub, and then follow with sea salt flakes and pepper.
Cook this turkey in an oven or in a Traeger/ pellet grill). Preheat the oven to 350°F and roast the turkey until the thickest part of the breast reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. *This varies by size, but usually takes us 2-3 hours. This recipe is based on a 20 lb turkey, but I have tested it using a 14 lb turkey as well.
Glaze the turkey with remaining honey butter, once every hour, as it roasts.
Why you NEED to let the Turkey rest:
Does resting the turkey after it roasts really make a difference? Yes. It absolutely does. Why let it rest? Cutting a piece of meat when it is very hot causes all of the liquid within the meat to run out. Resting the meat gives it time to settle and redistribute the juices internally, and because it's retaining more of its juices, the cuts are juicier and more tender.
So the lesson here is rest the turkey after taking it out of the oven. Liquid will actually pool out and your beautiful roasted turkey will end up very dry. Let it rest. Have a glass of wine. Then enjoy your juicy turkey dinner because you didn't cut it prematurely. ... Large pieces of meat will also continue to cook for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven.
How to make the best Gravy from Turkey drippings
Spatchcocked Apple Cider Bourbon Turkey with Honey Butter Glaze
- For the brine: In a large stockpot or food grade 5 gallon bucket (with lid) combine hot water, heated apple cider, soy sauce, kosher salt, bourbon, brown sugar, honey, onion, rosemary sprigs, black peppercorn, whole cloves, and chicken base. Stir ingredients until salt and sugars have dissolved then stir in ice to help cool down the brine.
- Rinse the turkey with cold water inside and out. Remove the giblets/gravy packet.
- Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate it overnight (If the turkey isn't submerged you can weigh it down with a bag of ice). *if the container doesn't fit in your refrigerator you can put it in a large cooler surrounded with bags of ice
- Remove turkey from brine and pat it dry, and discard the brine
- To Spatchcock (split) the Turkey: using a large sharp knife or sheers, cut the turkey open along the backbone. Cut on both sides of the backbone, through the ribs, and then remove the backbone. Once the backbone is removed and the turkey is open, split the breastbone to spread the turkey out so it is flat; this will allow it to roast evenly.
- Prepare the Glaze: melt butter and stir in honey until well combined.
- Place turkey in a large roasting pan and brush glaze on the top and bottom of turkey and generously season it all with the Traeger pork & poultry rub, then follow with sea salt flakes and pepper.
- Turkey can be cooked in the oven, or in a Traeger/ pellet grill): Preheat to 350°F and roast the turkey until the thickest part of the breast reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. *This varies by size, but usually takes us 2-3 hours.
- Glaze the turkey with remaining honey butter once every hour while it roasts.
- Be sure to let turkey rest 30-45 minutes before cutting it. This step is important for protein. This isn't optional like eating a fresh cookie out of the oven. Letting turkey/ proteins rest after they have been cooked allows them to re-absorb moisture to make it tender and juicy.
- *If you want to make a delicious gravy for this turkey, strain ½ cup of turkey drippings and heat in a skillet over medium/low heat. Gradually add ½ cup of flour while constantly whisking. Making sure the flour is evenly stirred and not sitting in one place for too long at the bottom of the pan because it will burn (this will ruin the roux!). Gradually add in vegetable or chicken stock and continue whisking. Allowing it to simmer. Add stock and stir until you reach the desired consistency of the gravy and serve immediately.
- DO NOT use a kosher turkey or a self basting turkey for this recipe, because it has already been treated with salt.