Neck to Tail…Spatchcocked, Not Half-Cocked

Most glorious spousal unit and I were walking the aisles of our local Amish Market seeking turkey. Sadly, all the gobblers had flown the coop and there wouldn’t be any returning until Tuesday. We found duck. And goose. And turkey parts: breasts, legs, thighs, and necks. Forgive me, but I wanted an assembled bird.
Okay, well mostly assembled. This one is missing a lot of what it was hatched with.

And, by the way, this is not a turkey, it’s a capon. For those wondering: WTF? a capon is a nutless cock (or rooster, if you can’t say cock without giggling). Without testicles, the birds grow smaller heads and bigger bodies. This one weighed in at just over 10 pounds.

Spatchcocking is apparently all the rage this year, mostly because it gives people an opportunity to say cock in public.
That is not a candy cane next to the flat bird, it is the neck and spinal column (with tail) I removed from the bird. If you are too squeamish to do such a thing, you shouldn’t be eating meat.
This is four ounces of liver that came with the bird. I don’t know if it was his liver or not, but I used it in a pâté.
Fixins for pate
The pâté is easy to prepare. I use a ratio of two parts liver to one part fat. For the four ounces of liver, I added one whole shallot, chopped; a large clove of garlic, minced; two ounces of butter, cold; salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, and a shot of cognac.
Cognac and Butter
I sautéed the shallot and garlic in capon fat, added pinches of salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence, and after a couple of minutes, added the capon liver. Once browned a bit, this mixture goes into a blender along with the cold butter and cognac.Whirl the mix until smooth, then scoop it into a container and chill until firm.
Capon Liver Pate!
Spread it on the bread!
Actually, some thinly sliced toasty bread works a bit better.

But what about the bird?

Oh, yeah. the bird. Hmmm. Where was I?

I didn’t do anything special with it. No, really!  When we got it home, I salted it liberally and put it in the fridge overnight. Before it went in the Weber®, I cut out the backbone, added a bit more salt and peppered the inside of what used to be the body cavity.
On the grill
On the Weber, I got the charcoal going, then pushed it to the sides. Between the two mounds of charcoal, I placed a pan of water. I added two small blocks of oak to the charcoal for its smoky goodness. To shield the underside of the bird, I fashioned a very shallow pan out of heavy duty foil.

It took me about a half-hour to get the temp stable around 250°F. It was chilly — in the 40’s — and there was a good bit of breeze, but once I got it stable, it stayed pretty steady.
What I really didn’t expect was this:
The breast was 158°F and…
the thighs came in at about 179°F.

The breast was very moist and had a nice, light smoke ring:
Smoked and Juicy
This bird was pretty fatty and had a layer under the skin that rivaled what you’d find on a duck. I didn’t expect the smoke to penetrate as well as it did nor did I expect the temperature variance that actually worked to my advantage.

Most glorious spousal unit wanted some au gratin potatoes. That recipe is also pretty straightforward: A pound of potatoes, sliced thinly; garlic, minced; salt, pepper, and cream. After an hour of baking at 400°F (20 covered, 40 uncovered), top with cheddar cheese and pop it back in for 10 minutes.
Potatoes Au Gratin
The cheese melts and runs down the sides where the potatoes have pulled away from the ramekin and gets all deliciously crunchy.
Capon and Taters
While we may have celebrated our Thanksgiving a bit early this year, it all worked out very well and we enjoyed a wonderfully delicious Sunday Dinner. Thank you, folks at the Amish Market, for NOT having turkeys!

This entry was posted in Recipes: Eats, Techniques and tagged , , , by johngl. Bookmark the permalink.

About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits. Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.