Spatchcocking a Turkey: Easy Turkey Recipe
The first time my wife and I successfully cooked a turkey was in 2000. We got married in 1997 so it took us a few years to get with the program. In any case, it was a procedure. We have both tried to do it and we have only really come out with a good tasting bird a few times. Every other time it’s been too dry. It’s just really hard to get a turkey right. Spending all day in the kitchen is bad enough, but when there is a high probability of failure it’s even worse. Well, I’d rather spend a fraction of that time and have a near guarantee of success. Turkey was probably not a centerpiece item at the first thanksgiving anyway. I see no reason to continue cooking the bird the conventional way if there is a more efficient method available. The point is to have a savory meal, not to screw the whole thing up as is tradition.
Spatchcocking (or Butterflying) a Turkey
Well, I heard Martha Stewart mention something that I had never heard of before, spatchcocking. Yes, you heard that right, spatchcocking. It is the process by which one removes the backbone of the bird and flattens it out for easy cooking. The benefits are twofold. The first is that the turkey cooks evenly since it’s lying flat; the dark meat cooks before the white has had a chance to dry out. That makes spatchcocking worthwhile right there. But, the other benefit is it reduces cooking time dramatically. Martha says she can fully bake a 12 lb turkey in 70 minutes and it comes out perfectly. Here’s the procedure. Start by rinsing the turkey inside and out and patting dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cut Out Backbone: With the breast side down cut along the both sides of the backbone (with poultry sheers) beginning at the tail end. It’ll rip right out once it’s free.
Open Turkey: Take the giblets and the backbone and use them later for stock. Open the turkey along the edges you just cut, and turn it over so that the breast side faces up.
Break the Breastbone: This is where a bit of strength comes in. Push down on one side of the breastbone with enough force to cause the connecting bones to crack. Then repeat on the other side of the breastbone. Now you have a flat turkey.
Flattening: Adjust everything, wings and all, so that the turkey is completely flat. Let it sit for 30 minutes before coating with oil.
Oil: Put the turkey on a baking sheet and brush olive oil over the entire surface of the turkey. You can season the oil with whatever you’d like. Garlic, salt, pepper, whatever.
Roast: Depending on the size of the bird. 12 lbs takes about 70 minutes. 15 lbs would take about 2 hours. The object is the get an instant read thermometer to read 165 at the thickest part. Remove and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Roasting is not the only way to cook a spatchcocked Turkey. Spatchcocking (I love that word) easily lends itself to grilling too. Anyway, I’m going to do it this year in the interest of saving time and having something good to eat. I think we’ve all resigned ourselves, us unprofessional cooks, to this seasonal holiday cooking torture. I propose that it doesn’t need to be that way. Sometimes we can have it both ways. We can have better food in less time. I’m in. And, thank you, Martha Stewart!