How to Spatchcock Your Thanksgiving Turkey
Words Rebecca Ulanoff
Who has hours to cook a Thanksgiving turkey? Spatchcocking is a cooking technique that gets it done in half the time. Try this easy recipe, plus tips for carving.
First of all, you might be wondering, what exactly is spatchcocking? It’s a popular turkey cooking method where you remove the neck and backbone from the bird so it lays flat to cook quickly and evenly.
When you spatchcock turkey, the legs, which take longer to cook than the breasts, are on the edge of your pan where the heat concentrates and the air circulates best. This method exposes almost all of the bird to high heat at the same time, meaning more deliciously crispy, crackly skin. What’s more, spatchcocking cuts cooking time in half (and saves energy!). Intrigued? Find out how to do it.
Salt and pepper to taste
Spatchcock Turkey Recipe
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Dry the turkey using paper towels.
3. Flip the bird breast side down on your cutting board, making sure you have a good hold on it. Cut down either side of the spine using Poultry Shears.
4. Remove the spine and set it aside to use for stock.
5. Flip the turkey over again and smush it flat with your hands—imagine you’re doing CPR.
6. Place your spatchcocked turkey onto a roasting rack (try silicone for easy clean up!) in a low-walled sheet pan, or directly on top of cubed root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, baby potatoes or even winter squash, onions and beets.
Tip: Use a low-walled pan (like our Jelly Roll pan) instead of a traditional roasting pan because it allows for better air circulation, helping the turkey cook evenly. The pan leaves the thighs and legs exposed to the oven’s heat so they can reach a higher temperature than the breasts at the same time.
7. Use your pastry brush to brush turkey with melted unsalted clarified butter.
Tip: Clarified butter is regular butter that’s been cooked down to remove water and milk solids, leaving just pure golden goods. Using clarified butter makes turkey skin extra crispy because it can withstand higher heat without the risk of burning. You can microwave unsalted butter right in your glass food storage container and paint it on the turkey.
8. Place in oven, grab a glass of wine.
9. Check the temperature after one hour; the thermometer should read between 160°-165°F.
10. Remove when the thighs reach between 160°-165°F. Let rest at least 30 minutes.
How to Carve a Spatchcocked Turkey
Once your turkey has rested for 30 minutes or longer, it’s time to carve! Carving a spatchocked turkey is slightly different from carving a traditional turkey.
1. Remove the legs: Make a slice in the skin between the leg and breast and continue cutting down right to the board to remove the thigh and leg. Set on your cutting board to slice later. Do the same for the other side.
2. Remove the wings: Flip bird on its side to expose the joint connecting the wing to the body, cut right through the joint. Add to the platter or set aside for stock. Do the same for the other side.
3. Remove the breasts: Slice down on either side of keel bone (a turkey’s breastbone) exposing the keel bone and peel the breast from the bone, so it peels right off in one piece. Set on your cutting board to cut.
Tip: Save the carcass for a rich turkey stock.
4. Separate the leg from the thigh: Separate the drumstick from the thigh by cutting through the joint that connects them. Put the drumstick on your platter. Do the same thing to the other side.
5. Debone and slice thighs: Cut along either side of the leg bone and peel meat from bone. Slice meat across the grain.
6. Slice breasts: Try to keep skin intact, slice across the grain and add to platter. Optional: Add fresh herbs for garnish.