The first time I saw a spatchcocked turkey, I thought the cook had brutalized the poor thing. It definitely looked nothing like the roasted turkey that I was used to seeing in every food photo pretty much ever. So I politely asked, “uh… what’s with the bird?” It was then that I learned about the wonders of the spatchcocked turkey from the cook’s point of view: It may not be pretty, but damn it makes hosting Thanksgiving dinner a whole lot easier.
Despite it’s funny sounding name, spatchcocking is not a new-fangled cooking method. People have been spatchcocking (also know as spattlecocking or butterflying) their roasting birds for ages. However, it wasn’t until relatively recently that the spatchcocked turkey started appearing on Thanksgiving dinner tables. From the point of view of the poor soul that is hosting the whole shebang (hah, me), the spatchcocking method is nothing short of miraculous. If you’ve ever hosted your own Thanksgiving, you are all too familiar with the turkey woes.
My biggest complaint about cooking a turkey isn’t how long it takes but how much of my oven it takes up! (That would be all of it). When my oven is on dedicated bird duty, I don’t have any space to bake any other dishes until the girl reaches 165*F and is ready to be taken out. When you’ve got half a trillion other sides to crank out before the guests arrive, this is a serious issue.
Enter the spatchcock. When you spatchcock your turkey, you’re flattening out the cooking space and placing all the best parts of the bird on the same cooking plane. This not only cuts down your cooking time to under 2 hours (for the average-sized bird), but also means that all the parts of the turkey are cooking evenly. Say goodbye to over-cooked, dry, tasteless breast meat! As an added bonus, now that your turkey is flat, you have room to put other dishes on the racks below it in the oven if you so desire.
The only downside to the spatchcock? You can’t stuff your turkey. I am strongly under the impression that the best stuffing is cooked separately from its bird counterpart, but as with most things in life, there are many different opinions on this. I guess if you’re looking for more spatchcocking cons, you could say that it looks nothing like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. This is very true, but realistically we carve up our turkey before it ever even makes it to the table, so honestly how it looks when it comes out of the oven makes absolutely no difference to us!
In conclusion, if you’re a meat-eating human tackling this dinner, the Spatchcocked Thanksgiving Turkey is the only way to go. Just follow these 5 Steps to Turkey Greatness, and you’ll be ready to start roasting!
What You’ll Need:
- Your Turkey
- Kitchen Sheers (or clean pruning sheers if you’re in a pinch)
- Strong Hands
Step One: Remove all giblets (I hate that word) and neck from inside turkey and set aside to make Thanksgiving Turkey Stock.
Step Two: Flip your turkey breast side down. Use your sheers to cut along either side of the backbone. Be sure to cut entirely through on both sides and remove the backbone. Remove your turkey “tail” as well and toss it in your stock pile – it’s the little nub on its bum.
Step Three: Flip your turkey breast side up. Gently lift the skin of the turkey’s neck and use your sheers to slice a few inches into the breast bone. (Be careful not to cut the skin!) Splay the legs out to either side and press firmly on the breast bone to flatten your turkey. (You may hear a pop or two.. don’t panic. I promise it can’t feel anything).
Step Four: Tuck wings under the turkey breasts so that the tips don’t burn.
Step Five: Season with my Turkey Dry Rub or your own favorite mixture and she’s ready to go!