We picked up a couple of big birds for the cook last weekend, one weighing in at 22 lbs. and the other 23 lbs. The turkeys were brined for 24 hours prior to the cook. Then on to the spatchcock.
From my perspective, the toughest part of the process was splitting the turkey down the backbone, especially the huge birds that Marshall selected. You need a super-sharp, high-quality knife, but if you hit the seam right it can go more smoothly, as shown in the time-lapse video below. Sometimes he’ll remove the entire backbone before smoking, sometimes he’ll cut down one side and leave it attached, to be removed when carving the turkey after cooking.
Once the turkey is split open, pat dry and spray with Pam to help the rub stick, then add your favorite poultry rub. For this cook, Marshall used both Money Championship Rub from Big Papa’s and Killer Hog’s The BBQ Rub from Mississippi. His favorite six poultry rubs are shown in a photo below.
We cooked the turkeys on Marshall’s custom Jambo J-3 smoker, nicknamed Jumbo, which he had dialed in at 300 degrees F. Place the bird cavity side down and don’t flip during the cook. For ease of handling, Marshall put each bird on its own circular grate on top of the regular Jambo grate. With a totally consistent fire, our two turkeys were ready in exactly three hours, far less time that a full bird would have taken normally. Your time will be less, of course, if you have a smaller turkey.
We confirmed they were ready when the breast reached 160 degrees F and the deep thigh meat reached 170 degrees F simultaneously, measuring with a probe thermometer. According to Marshall, this is another advantage of the spatchcock technique. The two meats can reach different temps at the same time, unlike traditional cooking where the white meat might have to be overcooked to reach the right temp for the deep thigh meat.
Once you’re done, let the meat rest for 30 minutes or an hour, it will be far easier to carve when it’s cooled a bit. We hope you enjoy this recipe and happy holidays to our Posse friends.
2 cups of your favorite poultry rub
1 cup of sugar
3 cups of water
Bring the mixture of rub, sugar and water to a simmer (do not boil) and stir until completely dissolved. Transfer to a food-grade bucket and add more water to bring the volume up to 2 gallons, stir until fully mixed together. Add turkey and refrigerate for 24 hours. Ideally you’d like the level of water to be about 3 inches higher that the top of the turkey.
If you don’t have the refrigerator space to do this, you can use a jumbo zip lock bag and place in a good quality cooler with ice for 24 hours. Marshall also suggests you check Lowe’s to get the food-grade buckets for brining, they are $4.99 each but are often much more expensive at butcher supply stores.