Happy Thanksgiving, Part 2

Are you running out of time or oven space today? Spatchcock your turkey! 

What does spatchcock mean? Originally it was a term for a culled immature male chicken. These days it, along with butterflying, is a term for a specific way to prepare your chicken or turkey for cooking. When you spatchcock a bird you cut out the backbone, and possibly also the sternum or keel bone, and flatten the bird out. If you’ve ever struggled to get your whole bird of choice evenly cooked you can appreciate how a flattened out fowl cooks more evenly. And it’s faster, too! A medium-sized turkey is done in about 90 minutes. 

I started with a 10-pound turkey from Hoe Hope Valley Farm. I saw the idea for butterflying turkey in the November issue of Real Simple magazine. Oddly, the instructions are not available online. I got out my trusty Cutco kitchen shears, ready to cut out the backbone. It was more difficult than I thought! So I sought out help from Google, found a few more photos and was able to proceed. 

Here’s what I found: 

  1. The backbone is pretty skinny and all you need to cut out on the back.
  2. The turkey didn’t lay as flat as I expected. I found out too late about cutting out the sternum, I advise cutting that out as well, or at least part of it.
  3. A spatchcocked turkey is really big! It’s flat, but it takes up a whole lot of horizontal space. It did not fit well in my roaster, though I crammed it in anyway.
  4. The wing tips might burn. It’s better to cut them off and the bird will take up less space that way.
  5. Spatchcocking promises a crispy skin. However, an electric turkey roaster does not lend itself to crispy skin. It was yummy anyway!

Overall I found this to be an excellent way to roast a turkey. I saw a lot of recipes for grilled spatchcocked turkey, another great way to save oven space. 

When you have the time to brine, I recommend Real Simple’s dry brine formula. When it was time to roast the turkey I patted it dry and rubbed the turkey with butter. The combination of the brine and butter was wonderful. For instructions on butterflying I found meatwave to have the most thorough instructions and photos. Martha, of course, has the prettiest photos of spatchcocking and instructions for carving as well. Serious Eats has a good discussion, too. 

Finally, with all the family fun and food we were not able to take photographs. Enjoy this shot of our lovely fall colors instead! Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by  Zachary Cross

Photo by Zachary Cross

Heather Cross