Boneless Turkey

December 21, 2008

This is a trick I started performing at about the age of 12. I'm not sure where I first read about it, but I loved the idea of removing the bones from a turkey, sewing it up, and then stuffing it to look like a normal turkey. Granted not many pre-teens are interested in tackling this sort of project, but my mother was supportive, bought me all the ingredients and let me try it out. Keep in mind, this was in the 1970s, long before Turducken hit the mainstream media. Amazingly, it came out great and I have repeated the feat over the years on everything from small cornish game hens up to 20 pound Turkeys...from New York to Spain and now in Seattle.

Why would one do this you might be asking!?! Well here are a few reasons:

  • Without the bones, you can fit about twice as much stuffing inside the bird. Since stuffing is my favorite part, I love this. I guess you can tell what side of the cook inside vs. outside debate I'm on.
  • This is just a theory, but I think the bones hold the meat up and cause the juices to drain out. As my theory goes, having the meat down on the stuffing keeps it more moist.
  • You can roast the bones and make a great stock for gravy in advance.
  • It makes for a very cool presentation!

So how does this work? Well the basic technique can be found clicking our logo:

Deboning Poultry on Foodista

I prepared a boneless bird this past Thanksgiving for a good sized crowd..all of whom seemed pleased. Maybe you should try if for your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus bird!



Peter's picture

Nice little tutorial...I'll keep this in mind the next turkey I dispatch.

Heather's picture

I saw no directions here. How do you get the wings out? The legs? Does this cut down on the cooking time?

Barnaby Dorfman's picture

Click on the small Foodista logo in the post above for more on the technique. I leave the drumstick and wings in. Overall cooking time is about the same as regular Turkey. I use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temp gets to 170 degrees.

Glenna's picture

Nice trick! I'm going to give this a try with a chicken first....

Mandy Evans's picture

Here's how it really went! I was not supportive. No, I'd say reluctant and worried. You know, all those people coming and the newbie chef on turkey! It's not like you can just whip up another batch if it goes horribly wrong. But the kid was determined and I gave in.

Yeah, Barnaby! It was great! The best way to cook the bird ever -- delicious conversation piece, easy to carve, a beautiful presentation.

Bar Man's picture

Sounds great except for one thing. Every time you turn around you are warned about cooking the stuffing inside the bird. The reason given is that when you cook the bird a lot of the juices are absorbed by the dressing. However, the temperature at which the bird is done is not sufficient to heat the dressing to the point where it will kill the bacteria in the juices.

Granted, people have been cooking the stuffing in side the bird for years so I am not how big a concern this should be. I thought I would pass it on though.

Jim Morrison's picture

OK, I know this may sound a bit odd, but hang in there for a minute. First of all, washing the completely boned out bird under cold running water in the sink will remove most of the bacteria. Secondly, (here's the odd part) you could effectively kill virtually all the surface bacteria by adding a cap full or old fashioned Listerine antiseptic mouthwash to a large mixing bowl of water and soaking the bird for 5 minutes. Rinse again under running water to remove any of the "Listerine water". In effect, you now have a "sterile" bird, and you no longer have to worry about not heating the stuffing to 180F to kill bacteria.
There have been news stories about how poultry plants are now testing the active antiseptic ingredient in mouthwash which is harmless to humans, to sterilize poultry prior to packaging it. I invite you to do a bit of research to confirm what I've said.
Jim Morrison

Dentists Daytona Beach's picture

Wow, that looks like an awesome dinner. Thanks for sharing this to us.