What’s more festive than a good holiday turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve? A barbecue turkey rubbed and sauced by Chef Rodney Scott of Whole Hog BBQ.
The second pit-master to win a James Beard award, Scott was named Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2018. Today, he's spicing up your turkey game with a three-step rub, sauce and grill method that'll have your guests clamoring for more.
“When you cook a turkey on the pit the way we do,” Scott says, “you don’t end up with a pretty, gold bird like the ones you see on the covers of the Thanksgiving issues of all the food magazines, but I don’t think most of those pretty birds taste as good as the one that’s been smoked on the pit or grill and seasoned the way we do. Spatchcocking the turkey allows us to cook it more evenly and get seasoning throughout the bird. You be the judge.”
The sauce is used in large quantities at Rodney Scott’s four restaurants "to mop our hogs when they are cooking."
"It gives the meat a slight tang and a little heat," he says. "Some folks may feel like there is too much acid when they taste it on its own, but that acid is essential for balancing out fatty, rich meat. We serve 'whole hog,' which means the meat we serve is pulled from all parts of the hog that has been pit cooked, so that each guest gets a little of the shoulder, ham, belly, etc., and hat means the blend is rich and flavorful, and can use this hit of acid."
The sauce can also be used in other recipes, including collard greens. While it may taste unconventional to someone unfamiliar with Eastern Carolinian cuisine, it reflects Rodney’s cuisine and heritage. Give this barbecue bird a try, and follow Scott's pro tips for the perfect bite.
Rodney’s Pro Tip
“Spatchcocking the turkey allows it to lie flat on the grill.” Scott recommends having your butcher do this, or doing it yourself by setting “the turkey breast-side down on your work surface, with the tail facing you. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up from the tail to the neck on each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and save for soup or discard. If you prefer, at this point, you can cut the turkey in half through the breastplate.”
Makes 2 cups.
Mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Makes 1 gallon
Note: This recipe is for a large amount, but because of the ratios and the way it cooks down, it is important to make this much—it is not recommended to reduce this recipe by more than half. If you are using it as a “mop sauce” while grilling or smoking, you will need quite a lot with some left for the table. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 8 weeks.
Photography by: Angie Mosier