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Kitchen Hack: How to Cook a Turkey with Spatchcocking

Kitchen Hack: How to Cook a Turkey with Spatchcocking


    Easter Weekend is fast approaching. Chocolate Easter Bunnies have been prominently displayed in the supermarket aisles for several weeks now, and on my way into town the local Catholic church had posted its liturgical schedule for Holy Week for all to see.   Lent is officially finished, and its time to celebrate!

    Easter Bunnies and Good Friday Mass aside, for most of us this means some kind of familial get-together with the ubiquitous turkey dinner – a prospect that strikes fear and dread into those uninitiated in the preparations of large family dinners.

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    I’m here to tell you that you that there is a little culinary trick you can pull out on Easter Sunday to speed up the process of turkey dinner. Preparing a full-on turkey dinner needn’t require a day of being chained to the kitchen stove. It involves hacking your turkey — quite literally — with a technique known as spatchcocking.

    And once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back!

    What the heck is Spatchcocking?

    It sounds titillating, but spatchcocking is nothing more than cutting the backbone out of a bird in order to flatten it out. Sometimes the sternum (chest bone) is removed, but in my minimalist kitchen I just lean on the breast to crack the breastbone.

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    Why, you ask, would one want to do this?

    Grilled chicken was the original fast food way back in medieval days, and if you are grilling a bird it is eminently more practical to cook it flat. Everything not only cooks more quickly that way, but also cooks more evenly. Those craving dark meat can dine at the same time as the white meat afficionados.

    The bonus for those of us with today’s “mod-cons” is that this method works equally well in the oven — and for poultry of any size or shape. I have spatchcocked everything from turkeys to ducks to quail…and everything in between!

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    The other (and in my mind, more important) reason is the exposed skin to oven ratio is nearly doubled, meaning more crispy skin!

    Spatchcocking 101

    1. Acquire a turkey. Somewhere between 10-12 lbs is best. Something that will actually fit on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a large roasting pan.
    2. Spend the morning with your family and/or friends. Lawn bowling or croquet are quite nice at this time of the year (at least in my neck of the woods).
    3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
    4. Get yourself a hefty pair of sharp kitchen shears. They need to be able to cut through bone. This can be done with a sturdy chef’s knife, but kitchen shears are much easier.
    5. Take all the bits (gizzards, necks, etc.) out of the turkey. You can put these in the bottom or your roasting pan with a couple of thick onion slices to help with the gravy.
    6. Place the turkey breast side up.
    7. Flip the turkey over so the backbone is facing up.
    8. Starting at the pope’s nose (or tail), cut up one side of the backbone and down the other to completely remove it.
    9. Flip the turkey over and let the legs “splay” out.
    10. Pretend you are giving the turkey CPR, and give it a couple of chest compressions until you hear the breastbone crack.
    11. Slather the turkey with a coating of oil or butter (your preference). Season liberally and place in the oven.
    12. Roast for approximately 70-90 minutes — until the thigh meat registers 160 degrees. Cover it loosely with foil and let it rest about 15 minutes before carving while you fuss with the vegetables, toss the salad, and make the gravy.

    But what about the stuffing?

    Stuffing the turkey merely slows down the whole process, and there is always more than one way to get your stuffing fix. Sure, you get moist stuffing, but in the back of your mind there will always be the lingering question as to whether the innermost reaches of the turkey actually cooked enough to avoid food poisoning. If you like moist stuffing, douse your cornbread with a liberal mixture of eggs and buttermilk before popping it in the oven.

    After you get the turkey in the oven, you can easily get a batch of cornbread-sausage stuffing going on the stovetop, and finish it in the oven in a covered casserole dish while the turkey is cooking.

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    Conclusion

    Now that you’ve been introduced to spatchcocking, try it out with poultry of all kinds. And remember…it works in the oven, but works equally well on the grill for your summer barbecuing. Try it for Easter dinner as a warm-up for all those backyard summer parties coming up.

    (Photo credit: Spatchcock Whole Chicken via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

    12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

    15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and black tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here:

    11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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