This post is sponsored by the National Turkey Federation. You can find delicious turkey recipe ideas on their website, www.eatturkey.org.
I realize it can be a hard sell to suggest not making a traditional roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, but this Harissa Spatchcock Turkey is worth consideration! At a minimum, it’s worth grabbing an extra turkey to make this recipe some other day!
Spatchcocking a turkey is something I started experimenting with a few years ago and it’s basically the only way I make a whole turkey now (or deep fried). While it is a little extra butchery work, the bird roasted very evenly and quickly and you end up with a perfectly crispy skin and juicy meat.
WHAT IS HARISSA?
If you haven’t used harissa before, it’s a paste of a variety of spices that is featured a lot in Mediterranean cuisine. The base of the paste is chiles and it can span from mild to spicy. I like to use a mild harissa for a roasted turkey. You don’t want anything over-powering.
You might have to look around a bit to find harissa. It should be available at spice shops or you can find it at Whole Foods sometimes. You can also order it online! I found this version on Amazon and it was very delicious.
How to Prepare the Turkey
To spatchcock turkey, use kitchen shears to remove the backbone out of a whole turkey. It’s tough work but take your time. You can also ask your butcher to spatchcock your turkey for you. Some might be willing to do it for you. Remove the backbone and press the turkey flat on a large baking sheet. Reserve giblets for gravy.
Once you have your turkey spatchcocked, rub it with the harissa butter mixture. Be sure to rub it under the skin as well as all in the cavity of the bird. You can do this up to a day in advance and it works as a great marinade.
Roasting the Turkey
Roasting the turkey is much faster than a traditional roasted turkey because the bird is basically in a single layer. I like to start the turkey at 450˚ F so you get some really good caramelization and then turn it down to 375˚ F to finish roasting.
- Want a more traditional turkey? Try my dry-brined turkey!
Making the Harissa Gravy
Start the gravy by simmering the giblets in some water with garlic and bay leaves. This makes a really simple stock that can be used to make the gravy.
To make the roux for the gravy, add some flour, butter and harissa to a medium pot over medium-low heat. Once that has cooked for a few minutes you can slowly whisk in the giblet stock and season with salt and pepper. It’ll thicken up beautifully into a gravy. Optionally, you can chop the giblets and stir them in.
Serve the gravy, of course, with sliced harissa turkey!
- Have leftover turkey? Try my Chipotle Turkey Sandwich!
What to serve with Harissa Spatchcock Turkey?
The good news is that the flavors on this turkey go really well with any traditional Thanksgiving sides. So there’s no need to change up your whole menu if you want to add this turkey. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls… it all works! This Green Bean Casserole from Scratch is a perfect option!
My family absolutely devoured this version of turkey. We ate it two nights in a row to zero complaints!
Harissa Spatchcock Turkey
- 1 12-14 pound whole turkey, spatchcocked
- ½ cup harissa, mild or spicy
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 2 carrots, chopped
Harissa Giblet Gravy
- Turkey Giblets
- 6 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons harissa
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To spatchcock turkey, use kitchen shears to remove the backbone out of a whole turkey. It’s tough work but take your time. You can also ask your butcher to spatchcock your turkey for you. Some might be willing to do it for you. Remove the backbone and press the turkey flat on a large baking sheet. Reserve giblets for gravy.
- In a small bowl, mash together harissa and butter. Rub the harissa butter over the entire surface of the turkey, being sure to get it under the skin of the bird as well. Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper as well. You can do this step up to a day in advance and keep the turkey in the fridge, wrapped loosely in plastic wrap.
- When ready to roast, preheat oven to 450˚F. Slice a lemon and chop carrots and lay them in a baking sheet. Place the turkey on the baking sheet, breast-side up. Press down on the turkey so it is mostly flat. This will help with even cooking. Roast the spatchcock turkey for 30 minutes at 450˚F. Then reduce heat to 375˚F and continue to roast turkey until it reaches a temperature of 165˚F in the breast and thickest part of the leg, probably another 60-75 minutes.
- Remove turkey from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
To make harissa gravy:
- Add turkey giblets to a medium saucepan with crushed garlic cloves and bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour but up to two hours. Then drain stock and discard aromatics. (Optionally, you can chop giblets and stir them into the gravy at the end).
- Add butter to a pot over medium-low heat along with harissa. Add flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes until an orange paste forms. Slowly whisk in reserved giblet stock in ½ cup batches. Add about 2 cups of the reserved stock to form a thin gravy. Simmer gravy over low heat for 4-5 minutes and it will continue to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve spatchcock turkey with gravy and traditional sides.
- Leftover turkey will keep well in the fridge for 4-5 days or frozen for longer storage.