Spatchcocking a turkey is the game-changing cooking technique you never knew you needed. It will make your turkey cook faster, and result in succulent, juicy meat and a perfectly crispy skin. Elevate your holiday feasts to a whole new level of deliciousness!Read more: How to Spatchcock a Turkey
Nothing says I love you like a “Spatchcock Turkey” – Okay that’s ridiculous, – but it’s really good, and I think the better way to prepare a bird!
What is Spatchcocking?
Sometimes referred to as butterflying, to spatchcock is the opening of a turkey, chicken or any fowl by removing the backbone and flattening for fast cooking – it’s not hard to do and what a terrific idea!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday celebration and most often our “go to” menu is turkey. For some in our family, it’s all about the side dishes, with most being recipes that have been passed down for generations. But for me – it has always been about the turkey.
I’ve prepared the traditional full oven roast. I’ve also rotisseried and even deep fried a whole turkey. My favorite, regardless of the brining, basting, infusions and seasoning (which can all still be done) is to spatchcock.
Why Spatchcock a Turkey?
Simply put, the bird is juicier and the entire skin surface is crispy. There are other rewards. The bird cooks in half the normal time, it will also cool down faster for serving, and we find it much easier to carve. Did someone say juicier, crispier and easier in half the time?
Cooking a turkey in half the time is a huge checkmark for me as I find it easier to manage the presentation and serving of a hot feast. To this day, I still wonder how my mom did it – a talent rarely noticed unless things go wrong.
What about the Stuffing?
Preparing a turkey in a spatchcock style means that you will not be stuffing the turkey with dressing. We prepare a dressing casserole outside of the bird. This works for us, because we have vegan family members who enjoy dressing. Spatchcocking also means that you will not be presenting an enormous turkey and stuffing at the dinner table to carve – Norman Rockwell style!
No worries though, you will be happy to have prepared your turkey without slaving over it all day – and you will have the time to carve it beautifully – so that you can present it however you like!
Give spatchcocking a try, you will not be dissapointed.
Spatchcock Turkey Instructions
Preparation: Thaw and remove the neck and giblets – use them in stock for gravy as you would normally.
Spatchcocking the bird: Use poultry shears to cut along each side of the backbone to remove it. We were at the cottage this time and I had forgotten my shears (is that sheer stupidity or shear stupidity??) so we used a sharp heavier non–flexible cleaver, which worked very well.
While we used the cleaver in this case, any sharp sturdy knife will do the trick – but poultry shears are the best option. Note that there was no “whacking” as implied by using the cleaver – just slicing through!
Here are a few pictures. Once removed, place the bird skin up and spread out. Press down on the back (breast) until you hear it crack and it will flatten.
Pardon my “man-hands” in the photos – ha ha. These hands are of course those of my husband who kindly spatchcocked the turkey – someone’s got to take the pictures!
Note: Cut the backbone in half for the gravy stock pot.
Optional: While not required for spatchcocking, I cut off excess skin, the turkey tail, the wing tips and leg knobs. I also put these in the stock pot to make gravy later.
This video is worth 10,000 words:
Prepare your turkey as you normally would –
Here is my very simple but tasty recipe using a 12lb butter infused turkey. A printable recipe card will follow at the bottom of this post.
- Coarsely chop 3 medium sized onions, 3 large carrots and 3 stalks of celery and place on the baking tray.
- Remove moisture and dry the bird using paper towels.
- Lightly coat the entire bird (back and front) with olive oil and season the entire bird with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning – I usually have fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary around and put these in coarsely along with the vegetables.
- Place the bird flattened and spread out over the vegetables on the baking tray. Tuck the wings under the body and point the leg knobs out.
- It’s best for the turkey not to be below the edge of the roasting tray, but the tray needs to have a reasonably sized edge to prevent the turkey juices from overflowing when cooking.
- Place the bird into a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 218 Celsius and roast for approximately 7 minutes per pound. I use a thermometer to test periodically by inserting into the thickest part of the breast. Look for between 160 to 165 degrees F.
- When done, remove from oven and cover with foil. I strain the juice from the bottom of the pan and add boiled stock for gravy.
- Carving a spatchcocked turkey is simple. I find this method to be much faster – and may take only a few minutes! – see this video for 10,000 more words….
Preparing turkey spatchcock style, is much faster than other methods of preparation. The turkey meat is delicious, tender and evenly cooked. The turkey skin is browned to perfection and evenly crisp. Carving the turkey is straightforward and the feast will be on the table just like that! I hope you will give spatchcocked turkey a try!
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