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Kitchen Hack: How to Cook a Turkey with Spatchcocking

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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 December 2, 2021

    The Importance of Making a Camping Checklist

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    The Importance of Making a Camping Checklist

    Camping can be hard work, but it’s the preparation that’s even harder. There are usually a lot of things to do in order to make sure that you and your family or friends have the perfect camping experience. But sometimes you might get to your destination and discover that you have left out one or more crucial things.

    There is no dispute that preparation and organization for a camping trip can be quite overwhelming, but if it is done right, you would see at the end of the day, that it was worth the stress. This is why it is important to ensure optimum planning and execution. For this to be possible, it is advised that in addition to a to-do-list, you should have a camping checklist to remind you of every important detail.

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    Why You Should Have a Camping Checklist

    Creating a camping checklist makes for a happy and always ready camper. It also prevents mishaps.  A proper camping checklist should include every essential thing you would need for your camping activities, organized into various categories such as shelter, clothing, kitchen, food, personal items, first aid kit, informational items, etc. These categories should be organized by importance. However, it is important that you should not list more than you can handle or more than is necessary for your outdoor adventure.

    Camping checklists vary depending on the kind of camping and outdoor activities involved. You should not go on the internet and compile a list of just any camping checklist. Of course, you can research camping checklists, but you have to put into consideration the kind of camping you are doing. It could be backpacking, camping with kids, canoe camping, social camping, etc. You have to be specific and take note of those things that are specifically important to your trip, and those things which are generally needed in all camping trips no matter the kind of camping being embarked on.

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    Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next camping trip.

    1. First off, you must have found the perfect campground that best suits your outdoor adventure. If you haven’t, then you should. Sites like Reserve America can help you find and reserve a campsite.
    2. Find or create a good camping checklist that would best suit your kind of camping adventure.
    3. Make sure the whole family is involved in making out the camping check list or downloading a proper checklist that reflects the families need and ticking off the boxes of already accomplished tasks.
    4. You should make out or download a proper checklist months ahead of your trip to make room for adjustments and to avoid too much excitement and the addition of unnecessary things.
    5. Checkout Camping Hacks that would make for a more fun camping experience and prepare you for different situations.

    Now on to the checklist!

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    Here is how your checklist should look

    1. CAMPSITE GEAR

    • Tent, poles, stakes
    • Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
    • Extra tarp or canopy
    • Sleeping bag for each camper
    • Sleeping pad for each camper
    • Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
    • Pillows
    • Extra blankets
    • Chairs
    • Headlamps or flashlights ( with extra batteries)
    • Lantern
    • Lantern fuel or batteries

    2.  KITCHEN

    • Stove
    • Fuel for stove
    • Matches or lighter
    • Pot
    • French press or portable coffee maker
    • Corkscrew
    • Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
    • Food-storage containers
    • Trash bags
    • Cooler
    • Ice
    • Water bottles
    • Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
    • Cups, mugs
    • Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
    • Cutting board
    • Foil
    • soap
    • Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
    • Paper towels
    • Extra bin for washing dishes

    3. CLOTHES

    • Clothes for daytime
    • Sleepwear
    • Swimsuits
    • Rainwear
    • Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
    • Extra layers for warmth
    • Gloves
    • Hats

    4. PERSONAL ITEMS

    • Sunscreen
    • Insect repellent
    • First-aid kit
    • Prescription medications
    • Toothbrush, toiletries
    • Soap

    5. OTHER ITEMS

    • Camera
    • Campsite reservation confirmation, phone number
    • Maps, area information

    This list is not completely exhaustive. To make things easier, you can check specialized camping sites like RealSimpleRainyAdventures, and LoveTheOutdoors that have downloadable camping checklists that you can download on your phone or gadget and check as you go.

    Featured photo credit: Scott Goodwill via unsplash.com

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