Image of turkey being spatchcocked.Bon Appetit

The Very Best Roast Turkey Starts with This Funny Trick

A few weeks ago, I caught an episode of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, where some celeb contestants were being taught how to spatchcock poultry. Not everyone knew what “spatchcock” meant.

Though Melissa Peterman hilariously tried to master the pronunciation of the word and bombed, she mastered the method. So, what’s spatchcocking and how do you do it?

A technique that dates back to the 18th century, spatchcocking involves removing the backbone from poultry and flattening it into a butterfly shape before cooking. You can use the method on chicken, turkey, Cornish game hens, and other fowl.

There’s been a bit of a resurgence over the past few years, and some people prefer to spatchcock their birds over regular roasting. For one, it takes less time to cook— we’re talking about nearly halving the cook time.

Every part of the skin gets golden and crispy while the bird stays juicy. Flattening the bird allows it to cook evenly and serving it up is so much easier! The only part you may miss is the wishbone.

With Thanksgiving coming this month, some of you may be looking for a different way to prep your turkey. If you don’t mind its presentation, then this spatchcocked turkey could be just what you’re looking for!

This video demonstration by Bon Appetit lays out all the steps – including a round of enthusiastic taste tests. Mmmm. . .

  1. Cut It

    Place your turkey on a cutting board, breast side down. Cut out the backbone.

  2. Flip Your Bird

    Flip it over and push down on the breastbone until it snaps.

  3. Cook It

    Season it overnight, butterfly it, and cook it in an oven that’s been preheated to 450°Fahrenheit.  Allow it to roast for 30 minutes.

  4. Finish It Off

    Lower the temperature to 350°Fahrenheit. Cook for 1 hour and remove from oven.

Watch the video for detailed instructions on how spatchcock, dry brine, and roast this bird. This one was dry-brined overnight, but some chefs choose to use a wet brine or a seasoned paste for their versions. It’s up to you! You won’t believe the results after just 90 minutes of roasting.

When it’s in the oven, it’s fine to baste it and do quick thermometer checks. As far as cooking the bird, oven roasting isn’t your only option. Feel free to throw your turkey on the grill to give it a nice, smoky flavor.

After your bird is out of the oven, be sure to let it rest for 30 minutes. This step allows it to reabsorb its juices, making it easier to cut up.

If you’re unsure about cutting out the backbone and spatchcocking your turkey, you can always get a butcher to handle it for you. For those of you who plan on trying this, don’t forget to make a wish when you snap (or snip) the heck out of that wishbone!

What do you think of this turkey cooking method? Have you ever tried spatchcocking poultry before? Is this something you’d want to try for Thanksgiving?