Grill-roasted Butterflied Turkey

If you want to cook a delicious grill-roasted turkey, but don’t have hours to spare – butterflying is a great option. Butterflying, also referred to as spatchcocking, is a common technique that involves opening up the bird so that it lays flat on the grill and the heat can penetrate it faster. This allows you to use a higher heat and cook the bird in just 75 to 90 minutes. The resulting presentation might not be up to the standards of Martha Stewart, but the flavor definitely will be. But if you carve the turkey before bringing it out to your guests, nobody will ever know the difference. In addition, the quicker roasting time and higher temperature can yield slightly juicier meat and crispier skin. And an overnight brine helps deliver even more succulent results.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 10 – 12
Image of Grill-roasted Butterflied Turkey

  • 12 pound organic, fresh turkey

For the Brine

  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Freshly-grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 6 quarts ice-cold water plus 2 quarts to boil

Preparing the Brine

Place the ancho chile and cloves in a blender or food processor and grind them together. Remove from blender and place in a large pot along with the kosher salt, brown sugar, orange zest, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 6 quarts of ice cold water to cool the brine.

Brining the Turkey

Discard the giblets and neck from the turkey. Place a brining bag in a large tub or pail. Place the turkey in the bag with the breast side down. Give the brining solution one last stir and pour it into the bag. Squeeze all of the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Refrigerate for 12 hours, or overnight.

Butterflying the Turkey

Remove the turkey from the brining solution and pat dry.

Use strong kitchen shears and a heavy knife to cut out the back bone of the turkey. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can use the backbone to start a turkey stock to make gravy, or simply discard it if you are making our Mirepoix Gravy. Next, use a paring knife to cut the breastbone loose. You can either remove it, or simply slice under each side to help you open up the bird to lay flat.

Preparing the Grill

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking at 450°F to 500°F. If you’re cooking on a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill, the setup should go as follows:

  • Remove the far left or far right grill grate from the grill and set it aside. Load the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer above that burner with a moderate load of charcoal.
  • Preheat the grill with the main burner underneath the charcoal and the ignition burner both on high. The grill hood should be closed and the vent on the top of the grill hood open.
  • Once the charcoal fire is lit, turn the main burner beneath the charcoal to low. Leave the ignition burner running. Add a couple of wood chunks on top of the charcoal fire. After you have placed the turkey on the grill you will need to add fresh wood chunks every 20 to 30 minutes to refresh the smoke. Keeping the grill grate out of the grill will give you convenient access for adding the wood chunks as you go.

Roasting the Turkey

Tuck the ends of the turkey wings up and over the shoulders, then place the turkey on the grill grate in the indirect grilling zone with the skin side up, and breasts toward the fire. Close the hood and roast at 450° to 500°F, remembering to add fresh wood chunks periodically. Gently rotate the turkey to orient the legs toward the fire after the first hour of cooking. The turkey will be done when an instant-read meat thermometer reads 165°F. This should take about 75 to 90 minutes.

When finished, remove the turkey from the grill. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. We suggest serving with our Mirepoix Gravy.