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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 October 16, 2018

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

    If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

    One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

    Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

    In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

    Why you can’t sleep through the night

    The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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    Stress

    If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

    Exposure to blue light before sleep time

    We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

    While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

    Eating close to bedtime

    Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

    Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

    Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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    Medical conditions

    In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

    The vicious sleep cycle

    The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

    Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

    You get a bad night’s sleep
    –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
    –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
    –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

      You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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      How to sleep better (throughout the night)

      To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

      1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

      What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

      Here are a few suggestions:

      • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
      • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
      • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
      • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
      • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

      2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

      What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

      • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
      • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
      • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
      • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

      3. Adjust your sleep temperature

      Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

      Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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      Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

      Sleep better form now on

      Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

      I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

      As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

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