Cooking a Thanksgiving meal has become very big part of my life. The past 6 years I have spent the holiday away from family, due to work or expensive flights. So I started the tradition of cooking for friends who also were apart from their families. Everyone comes over, some people help me in the kitchen, music is blaring, and lots of alcohol beverages are being indulged. 

My first year I was lost, I didn't know where to start. I asked my mom for key recipes that our family cooked for Thanksgiving parties and I turned to Bon Appétit Thanksgiving 2011 issue, which I still have; on how to create the perfect bird, which is brining and a spatchcock turkey.

Brining a turkey is key to a moist turkey. You can do a liquid brine which is a mixture of salt, herbs and liquid which could be orange juice or beer and the turkey is then submerged in the liquid. Or you can do a dry brine where you apply a mixture of salt and herbs directly onto the bird. During brining, the turkey absorbs extra moisture, which in turn helps it stay more moist and during and after cooking. A brined bird will even stay juicy if you slightly overcook it. 

Spatchcocking, is removing the backbone of the turkey , which will then become butterflied. This results in perfect roast, even browning, crispy skin and is cooked half the time of a whole turkey. Removing the backbone can seem gnarly since you are cutting through bones, but once you have it down it will be a great party trick to pull out.

Thanksgiving Menu:
Mashed Potatoes
Corn Bread Stuffing
Braised Kale
Hot Rolls
Roasted Cranberry Sauce




5 teaspoons aniseed
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup finely grated orange zest, plus 4 wide strips orange zest
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, sprig reserved
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, sprigs reserved
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


1 12–14-lb. turkey (neck, giblets, and backbone removed and reserved, you can ask your butcher to remove backbone)
2 medium onions, quartered
4 large carrots, peeled, halved
4 celery stalks
3 heads garlic, halved
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , soften (divided) 
1 cup chicken stock


Toast aniseed in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. 

Toss salt, grated lemon and orange zest, sugar, chopped rosemary, thyme leaves, pepper, and aniseed in a food processor.

Spatchcock instructions: 
Place turkey, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut up along backbone to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Turn skin side up and press down on breastbone to flatten. You should hear a crack and feel the bones give way.

Rub salt mixture all over the turkey. Place turkey, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and chill, uncovered,  for at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and rosemary sprigs in a roasting pan. Rinse turkey, pat dry, and set skin side up on top of vegetables. Rub 3 tablespoons of butter all over turkey and under turkey skin and let sit out for 30 minutes. 

Melt butter and place orange strips in a small saucepan, let cool slightly.

Brush turkey with butter, add 1 cup chicken stock to pan, and roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to roast, basting with pan juices and brushing with butter every 30 minutes, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°. Should be around 2 hours of cooking time. 

Transfer to a platter, cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.