Petite Spanish Spatchcock Turkey with Smoked Paprika, Fennel, Hazelnuts & Olives
1 1/2 Tablespoon Fennel Seeds
3 garlic cloves
1 large lemon (or two small) juiced and zested
1 1/2 Tablespoons dried oregano
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
6-7 pound Petite Turkey*
Large pinch of salt
Fresh ground peppercorns
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 Tablespoons cold water
A handful or more of Spanish olives (not canned)
1-2 more lemons, cut in half to garnish.
A handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
*For a bigger turkey option (14-16 pounds) double the spice paste recipe. We love petite turkeys as they are more flavorful and tender. When we’re cooking for a larger group, we opt for two petite turkeys instead of going bigger. But you CAN do this with a larger turkey – just be sure to make enough marinade paste. And if possible, get a butcher to spatchcock the larger turkey for you – they can be pretty tough to crack.
1. Using a mortar & pestle, crush the fennel seeds well, grate the garlic cloves, and then combine with the rest of the paste ingredients: lemon zest, half the lemon juice, oregano, smoked paprika pinch of salt and pepper (to taste), the olive oil and 1 Tbls of water. Grind until well combined, adding more water if needed to get a spreadable paste. Alternately, you can mix everything to a small food processor or blender – I used my Blendtec Twister container and it worked fabulously!
2. Spatchcock the petite turkey. Bonus tip: it should be thawed, haha. I love how simple this video makes it!
OPTIONAL: If you have the patience and time, use a small, sharp knife to separate the skin of the turkey breast and legs, being careful not to cut into the flesh or tear the skin. This way you can rub either some marinade paste or other herbed ghee/butter and such under the skin, for extra flavor and tenderness.
3. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, this will help the marinade paste to stick better. Rub the paste all over the chicken, covering evenly (and under the skin if desired).
4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Give it a good 20 minutes to preheat. This will also give the turkey some time to blend with the marinade paste and bring the turkey to room temperature.
5. For this small turkey, we used a 12 inch cast iron skillet for roasting. Carefully add the Spatchcocked turkey to the pan, breast side up. Then squeeze the other half of the lemon over the turkey. Garnish with the other lemons (cut in half, cut side facing up), and add the olives to the pan.
7. Place in the oven and roast at 450ºF for about 30 minutes*. Check the internal temperature and then lower the oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to cook the bird for another 20 minutes or so. Cover with foil if the bird starts to get too crispy to prevent burning.
NOTE: This timing is for a 6-7 pound bird – it is recommended to roast turkeys for around 6 minutes per pound, so just do some quick math if you have a larger bird and adjust accordingly.
8. The turkey is ready to take out of the oven when a thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the breast, without touching the bone, reaches 150°F (the thickest part of the thigh should be around 165°F – it’s okay if the thigh temperature exceeds 165°; dark meat isn’t as noticeably affected as breast meat by a bit of over-cooking – just shoot for the internal temperature of the breast at its thickest part to be 150°F.)
9. Remove your bird from the oven, remove the foil (if you used it) and let it rest for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before carving. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests; pulling it when the breast is at 150ºF helps prevent overcooking, as everyone’s oven is different and the internal temp can jump up quickly and ruin your turkey.
Serve directly from the cast iron skillet, or transfer to a nice platter. Garnish the top of the bird with the chopped parsley, and the toasted, chopped hazelnuts. This turkey is delicious with my White Wine and Thyme Cashew gravy. Happy Holidays!