Roasted turkey halves in the oven. They cook evenly and take about 2 hours. Try it one time.
Three smaller turkeys (@30lbs in all) cut in half easily fit into a regular home oven. Super efficient and temperature-wise safer because laid out flat and low down in the half sheet the more delicate white breast meat is now sharing the same heat intensity as the dark. This allows the delicious and stubborn dark meat and leg/thigh joint to fully cook through before the breast dries. This method also frees the oven for side dish warming at mealtime. The turkeys are done faster and you can do them a little ahead anyway.
Buy small birds, cut them in half, and roast them lying down on half sheets.
- Cook small turkeys–around ten pounds. Meat counters will usually separate and wrap them in a few minutes. At home your electric knife is the choice. Start with a clean, straight line at the top of the breast, let the blades cut (don’t saw) and gently separate the halves as the knife works its way downward.
- Place the turkey halves on half baking sheets or in a large roasting pan. Rub the halves liberally with oil or butter (or a combo), and season with Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper. Add other herbs if you like. Simple seems best.
- Place the turkeys in 450°F oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350°F. Baste the skin periodically if you like, we don’t bother. Mostly just keep the oven closed and the halves should be cooked through in about 2 hours. Look for 175 – 180°F in the thickest part of the thigh. The escaping juices should run clear, not pinkish. Let the birds rest 15 minutes or more before carving.
Once you reach the backbone spread the halves as though you were spatchcocking the bird and cut along one side of the backbone.
Once separated, use the knife to cut out the backbone completely. Use the backbone for your crock pot stock.
Carving Tip: Separate each breast half from the leg/thigh portion, and cut the breast meat crosswise into thick slices instead of the traditional thin lengthwise slices. Separate the thighs and legs at the joint with a sharp knife. Serve the legs whole and slice the dark thigh meat.
These halves make grilling a cinch, btw. We use our shelf chicken method and grill on a second grate set on bricks to keep the direct heat at bay. Crack the cover a tad and grill on medium for about an hour.
Note about stuffing: You’ll have to give up on stuffing the bird with this method. That’s just fine, because the our Cheater Chef Southern Cornbread Dressing recipe bakes up nice and crisp in a casserole and you can make as much as you want. Let the bird be the bird. No need to be a 9×13, too.
If there is any, leftover dressing out of a hot skillet with runny eggs, or by itself just out from under the broiler, will cure what ails ya. Happy Thanksgiving, Min & R.B.