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Nashville Hot Turkey Recipe

grilled spatchcocked turkey with nashville hot sauce

Nashville Hot Turkey

I’ve always said there’s a reason we only eat turkey once a year. All too often turkey turns out just sort of bland, and well….boring. I try to switch it every year, like the Sweet Thai Chili turkey I did some time ago. This non-traditional Nashville Hot Turkey recipe is another way to make your turkey interesting, juicy, and packed with flavor.

If you’ve ever heard of Nashville Hot Chicken, you’re likely at least curious about it. If you’ve ever tried Nashville Hot Chicken, you likely loved it. Traditionally deep-fried, it’s just such a great sandwich. In fact, I did a grilled version of this very popular style of chicken in my first book, Grill Seeker: Basic Training For Everyday Grilling. The flavor profile is of course on the hotter side, but it’s not heat for the sake of heat. Done right, this Nashville Hot Turkey recipe is well balanced and will have your taste buds dancing.

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I do this turkey on the grill but you can absolutely do it in the oven as well. Below I’ll answer a few often asked questions about turkey dinners and offer a few tips for making the perfect non-traditional turkey, and then get right into the recipe.

What Is the Perfect Size Turkey for Roasting?

I find that as turkeys get larger (and older), the already bland flavor associated with turkey gets worse. I recommend a 10-12 pound bird, like the turkeys from Omaha Steaks. Need more turkey than that? Not only do these smaller birds taste better, it’s also much faster to cook two birds in this size range rather than cooking one 20 pound bird.

Why Is Turkey So Dry?

To start, turkey is a very lean meat, with very little intramuscular fat. The lack of fat rendering inside the meat certainly doesn’t help it stay juicy. Also, the dark meat and white meat need to be cooked to different temperatures. When the dark meat is done, the white meat is often overdone and dry. Finally, it’s hard to get salt down into the meat for flavor. Salt creates saliva and the lack of salt in most turkeys also means a dryer mouth feel. Don’t worry… I solve these issues in this recipe.

carved and ready to serve thanksgiving meal

Tips for Making Nashville Hot Turkey

The Injection: To solve for the lack of intramuscular fat in the meat, and the challenge of getting seasoning into the thickest portions of the meat, I use a simple injection. By adding some of the Nashville hot seasoning into melted butter, and then injecting that into all parts of the bird, we solve for the lack of fat and salt in the meat.

The Seasoning: I’m generally a fan of making my own rubs, etc. That said, sometimes you find one out of the package that just works and this Nashville Hot Seasoning from a small family business in Galena, Illinois, is perfect.

The Trim: You’ve seen many food magazine covers featuring a beautiful whole roasted bird. While those are impressive, a whole bird takes longer to cook, and it’s harder to carve. Splitting the bird in half allows it to cook faster and more evenly than a whole turkey. No more overdone white meat! Add to that, the carving for service is much easier and user friendly.

The Presentation: Carve the bird by separating the leg and thigh from the breast, in one piece. There is a natural cut line for this and it’s very intuitive to remove. Depending on the size of the bird, this piece can be served whole, or broken down further into separate legs and thighs.

Next, remove the wings. This is a little more labor intensive but also intuitive. Finally, remove the breast meat from the breastbone by simply using your fingers and peeling it back.

Carve the breast meat by slicing against the grain from one side to the other. Slicing across the grain prevents the meat from becoming stringy and ensures that each slice of meat comes with an equal portion of that oh-so-flavorful and perfectly seasoned skin. 

The Drippings: Be sure to collect the drippings from the turkey as it cooks, we’ll use these to finish off the turkey just before service.

Nashville Hot Turkey Recipe

Serves: 8-10 | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: About 1 hour

Ingredients
1 10-12 pound turkey
¼ cup Nashville Hot Seasoning
2 sticks salted butter
2 tbsp neutral oil (like avocado or grapeseed)

How to Make Nashville Hot Turkey

Step 1: Separate the turkey into two halves by removing the backbone from the turkey with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Removing the backbone is easy; click here for a video tutorial. Then, using the knife or shears, cut down the middle of the breastbone to create two halves of the turkey.  

TIP: Don’t discard the backbone. It can and should be used to make incredible turkey stock or turkey gravy.

Step 2: Light your grill and set up for two-zone cooking. Alternatively, you can use the oven for this. Set the temperature for either to 350° F.

Step 3: While the grill or oven is preheating, melt one stick of butter over low heat, just until it melts. Then whisk in two teaspoons of Nashville Hot Seasoning. Allow the butter to cool somewhat, but before it starts to become a solid again, inject it evenly into the breasts, legs, and thighs. I use this meat injector but use what you have.

Step 4: Coat the skin of the bird evenly with a light brushing of a neutral oil. Avocado or grapeseed oil work well. Then, generously season the bird with Nashville Hot Seasoning.

Step 5: Place the turkey on a raised-rim cooking sheet. Put it into the preheated grill over indirect heat or into the oven. Allow the turkey to roast until internal temperature reaches 150° F in the breast or 170° F in the thigh, as read with a dependable quick-read thermometer. Cooking time will depend on the size of the bird.

Step 6: Remove the turkey from the grill or oven. Place it on another raised-rim sheet and tent with aluminum foil, allowing it to rest. While turkey is resting, strain the drippings into a small saucepan. Add an additional stick of butter and melt over low heat. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of Nashville Hot Seasoning and keep warm.

Step 7: Carve turkey as stated above in the presentation section and drizzle with melted butter, drippings, and seasoning.

Step 8: Serve with these amazing mashed potatoes, pickles, and cranberry sausage stuffing.

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grilled spatchcocked turkey with nashville hot sauce

Nashville Hot Turkey

5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Separate the turkey into two halves by removing the backbone from the turkey with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Removing the backbone is easy; click here for a video tutorial. Then, using the knife or shears, cut down the middle of the breastbone to create two halves of the turkey.  
  • Light your grill and set up for two-zone cooking. Alternatively, you can use the oven for this. Set the temperature for either to 350° F.
  • While the grill or oven is preheating, melt one stick of butter over low heat, just till it melts. Then whisk in two teaspoons of Nashville Hot seasoning. Allow the butter to cool somewhat, but before it starts to become a solid again, inject it evenly into the breasts, legs and thighs. I use this meat injector but use what you have.
  • Coat the skin of the bird evenly with a light coat of a neutral oil. Avocado or grapeseed oil work well. Then, generously season the bird with Nashville Hot Seasoning.
  • Place the turkey on a raised-rim cooking sheet. Put it into the preheated grill over indirect heat or into the oven. Allow the turkey to roast until internal temperature reaches 150° F in the breast or 170° F in the thigh, as read with a dependable quick-read thermometer. Cooking time will depend on the size of the bird.
  • Remove the turkey from the grill or oven. Place it on another raised-rim sheet and tent with aluminum foil, allowing it to rest. While turkey is resting, strain the drippings into a small saucepan. Add an additional stick of butter and melt over low heat. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of Nashville Hot Seasoning and keep warm.
  • Carve turkey as stated in the notes below and drizzle with melted butter, drippings, and seasoning.
  • Serve with these amazing mashed potatoes, pickles, and cranberry sausage stuffing.

Notes

This non-traditional Nashville Hot Turkey recipe is another way to make your turkey interesting, juicy, and packed with flavor. I do this turkey on the grill but you can absolutely do it in the oven as well.
Tips for the Presentation: Carve the bird by separating the leg and thigh from the breast, in one piece. There is a natural cut line for this and it’s very intuitive to remove. Depending on the size of the bird, this piece can be served whole, or broken down further into separate legs and thighs.
Next, remove the wings. This is a little more labor intensive but also intuitive. Finally, remove the breast meat from the breastbone by simply using your fingers and peeling it back.
Carve the breast meat by slicing against the grain from one side to the other. Slicing across the grain prevents the meat from becoming stringy and ensures that each slice of meat comes with an equal portion of that oh-so-flavorful and perfectly seasoned skin. 

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