So what if I told you there was a way to cook your turkey this Thanksgiving that would actually produce meat worth eating, and it wouldn’t take all day?
No, I’m not talking about frying a turkey, which requires the additional cost of equipment and the threat of danger — have you seen the Clarion Ledger Facebook video of what happens when you do it wrong? You probably have; it’s at 2.6 million views and counting. Or you could forget the turkey altogether and go with a ham, which is exactly what Big Ham wants you to do.
No, what I’m referring to is spatchcocking, which is not just a fun (and slightly dirty) word to say. It’s a simple way to produce a delicious turkey in half the time.
What you’re going to do is remove the backbone from the turkey, because the major reason most turkeys consumed each holiday season are not good is basic science. Because of the size and shape of the turkey and its placement in a roasting pan, you have to cook it at low heat and for a long time to get the legs and thighs (you know, the good stuff) to a safe temperature. But that dries out the top of the turkey, so what’s the point?
But by spatchcocking, we can lay the turkey flat in a pan and the heat will distribute evenly. And because we don’t have to mitigate the risks of overcooking the breast, we can cook it at a higher temperature.
All you need is a pair of kitchen shears. You’re going to place the turkey breast side down, and locate the backbone. Start cutting at the tail end of one side of the backbone, and repeat for the other. When it’s removed, flip the turkey over and — this is my favorite part because it sends my wife running out of the room when she hears it — press down with both hands on the breastplate until it cracks.
That’s it. Place it in a pan (you’ll need to abandon the roaster for a wider, flatter pan in order to fit the spread-out turkey) and preheat your oven to 450. Use any seasoning you like (I prefer this one from Bon Appetit that uses aniseed and orange zest), but do coat the turkey with olive oil. Roast it for 30 minutes at 450, then drop the temperature to 350 and continue cooking until the turkey reaches 165 degrees.
How long will it take? In my experience, about 90 minutes. Maybe. Some people like to spend this extra time with friends and family. Some will watch football. I’ll pour myself a nice glass of wine and sharpen my knives before cutting into a moist, delicious bird.
This is simply a delicious turkey that you’ll actually want to make leftovers with. It’s basically the ham industry’s worst nightmare.
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