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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spatchcock Turkey - The Best Way to Cook a Turkey!

Spatchcock Turkey for Thanksgiving

How would you like to cook a 10 pound turkey in an hour?  I'm not a crackpot. It is possible!  I hardly believe it myself but this is one of the best turkeys I've ever had.  

I've talked about my admiration for The Food Lab before.  The great thing about this series is that it determines the best way to cook a dish and explains the reasons for its findings.  This is the best way to cook a turkey quickly if you want crispy skin but don't care about presenting a whole bird to carve at the table.  Tableside carving has always seemed silly to me, so this method is perfect.  And actually, I thought it looked pretty nice just out of the oven.  

onions, celery, parsnips & thyme

First you need some aromatics to provide some moisture and flavour under the bird. You can use parsnips or carrots, plus some onions, celery and thyme sprigs.  

sheet pan with rack

Then you'll need a half sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet and a rack. 

sheet pan, rack, herbs, veggies

Roughly chop the veggies and scatter them, along with the thyme over the pan, under the rack. 


Now you need to prepare the turkey.  Remove the neck from inside the cavity. 

turkey giblets

There should also be a baggie of giblets in there.  Remove them as well.  We'll deal with them later.

spatchcock turkey

Now you need to cut the backbone out of the bird.  I've done this with chicken, but the turkey requires a little more elbow grease.  As long as you have a sharp set of kitchen/poultry shears, you should be fine.  

spatchcock turkey

From the leg end start cutting along the backbone, through the ribs and all the way up to the top.  Spread the turkey open slightly.

spatchcock turkey

Then cut the other side of the backbone and remove it.  

spatchcock turkey

Snip off the excess skin around the neck area.  

spatchcock turkey

Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the inside of the bird.

flattened spatchcock turkey

Now place the turkey on the rack and press down on the breastbone to flatten it as much as possible.  You should hear a crack.  Arrange the legs as above.

flattened spatchcock turkey

And tuck the tips of the wings under the breast.  

flattened spatchcock turkey

Drizzle oil all over the skin of the turkey.

flattened spatchcock turkey

Then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.   Now pop this whole tray into a 450 degree oven.  Rotate the pan after 30 minutes and check the temperature after an hour.  My turkey was just over 10 lbs and took about an hour.  The breast temperature should be around 150 degrees and the thigh should be at 165.  

turkey back, neck and giblets

Now here's all the bits we removed.  This picture helped me identify the giblets.  I discarded the liver and used all the rest to make the gravy.  

turkey back, neck and giblets

Using my shears I cut up the neck and backbone into smaller pieces.  

giblet gravy

Then I seared them in a pot in a bit of oil for about 5 minutes.  Then added a couple of bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

giblet gravy

Then I added some chopped carrots, parsnips onions and celery and cooked another 5 minutes.  Then added 6 cups of chicken stock, brought it to a boil and simmered about 45 minutes.  

turkey stock

Then strain it into a measuring cup and discard the solids.  (I actually saved them to use in my second stock with the rest of the carcass.)  Skim the fat from the top of the stock.

Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a small pot and then sprinkle 4 tablespoons of flour over it.  Whisk together and cook for about 3 minutes.  Then slowly whisk in the stock until combined.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer about 20 minutes until reduced and season with salt and pepper.  

spatchcock turkey

Once the turkey comes out of the oven, remove it to a tray to rest.

pan drippings

There weren't many drippings on my baking sheet, but there were lots of great brown bits so I added a bit of water to scrape them up so they wouldn't go to waste.  I strained this and added it to the gravy too.

carved turkey

I carved up the turkey.  You can go ahead and serve it now, but I actually did this earlier in the day so I could clean up the kitchen for guests later.  I placed the sliced turkey on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brushed it with some of the stock.  Then I covered it in foil and popped it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to warm through right before serving.  

spatchcock roasted turkey

I served the turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and rolls.  Delicious and so easy!  Here's the recipe from the Food Lab.  

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