Spatchcocked Turkey

November 27, 2014
Spatchcocked Turkey - Could spatchcocking really change the way you think about and eat turkey? The incredibly crisp skin alone is worth shaking up your Thanksgiving

“How long do you cook a turkey?”

Spatchcocked Turkey 1

Photo Credit: Glasbergen

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“Until it's done; of course,”    ~ The Two Chefs

The rise of an eyebrow, a big smile, followed by a lesson from The Two Chefs about the art of thinking beyond the four sides of a recipe card.  It's one of the reasons I love to come, really anyone can follow a recipe, but it's a life skill to learn how to put ingredients together, and no matter the method, cook a dish until it's done

November's cooking class, a focus on all things holiday.  Fun and different ideas for cooking sides, an incredible dessert I've taken to telling everyone about.  Ways for jazzing up the tried and trues (think deviled eggs) and a tutorial on how to

Spatchcock a Turkey

While it might not look quite like Norman Rockwell's version, it appears there are lots of reasons for changing the way you think about and eat turkey.  The super-crisp skin alone, very much worthy of the bold move.

“Ask yourself a few simple questions.”

He began by easing into the idea, ever so slowly.  Thanksgiving turkey veterans in the audience started to shift in their seats.  Who was this white-coated man, about to mess with tradition?  Didn't everyone have a stuffed, bagged bird cooking in their ovens?

“Do you want to the bird to actually taste good, be juicy, and have perfectly browned skin?”

More shifting

“Of course you do, stay with me here.  Following this method, and you'll remove the bird's backbone so it can be flattened and butterflied.  At this point, it'll be cooked skin-side up at a very high temp, which means there's more surface available for browning, with the temp producing the most incredible crispy, and crackly skin.”

Spatchcocked Turkey - Could spatchcocking really change the way you think about and eat turkey? The incredibly crisp skin alone is worth shaking up your Thanksgiving

He had full their attention now

“The best part?  A thirteen pounder cooks in half .. the .. time(!)   Somewhere between an hour and 90 minutes.”

I can't help but wonder how many Thanksgiving matriarchs have become rebels and risk-takers today.  I guarantee you; these talented Chefs would stand up and applaud (and invite themselves over for next year's festivities)

Spatchcocked Turkey 5-600x

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I've come to see recipes as something more than simply a list of ingredients and a process for production.  Instead, someone handing something they love, to someone else, in the hopes that person will deliver that love to someone else, and on, and on

So today I take their idea, their process, and pass it along.  With the hope, you'll do the same, while at the same time, weaving a new narrative of your own, or daring to take an existing family story in a different direction.

I wish for you and your family the happiest of Thanksgivings.  May we never lose sight of how much we have to be thankful for.



ps: A fun interview of Alton Brown talking about spatchcocking .. on NPR

A few Thanksgiving links from around the web that will make you smile

More recipes inspired by cooking class

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~ Inspired by The Two Chefs at Hy Vee and the recipe adapted from Alton Brown

Spatchcocked Turkey


  • 3 ½ Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 ¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp whole allspice berries
  • 1 (13-14 lb) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for Giblet Stock


  • Four days before service, place the salt, sage, thyme, black peppercorns, and allspice into a spice grinder and pulse until the peppercorns and allspice are coarsely ground, 5 to 6 pulses. Set aside.
  • Set the turkey, breast side down, on a large cutting board with the tail closest to you. Use an electric knife or heavy-duty kitchen shears to cut up one side of the backbone.
  • Turn the bird around and cut back down the other side of the spine. Reserve the backbone for stock. Discard any fat pockets or excess skin found inside the turkey.
  • Turn the turkey breast side up and use the heel of your hands to press down on both breasts, until you hear a cracking sound and the bird has flattened slightly.
  • Rub the seasoned salt on both sides of the turkey. Place the turkey on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan, breast side up with legs running with the long side of the pan. Store, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 4 days.
  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
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