Perfect Spatchcock Turkey
Perfect Spatchcock Turkey is an easy butterflied turkey, giving you the most evenly cooked turkey in about an hour and a half!
It’s almost Thanksgiving, so let’s talk turkey! I mentioned to you last week that I was doing a turkey trial run this past weekend, and it was a huge success. Never mind that I was so busy that day with numerous activities — I squeezed this bad boy in and managed to photograph it just before the sun started going down. It was a race against time, which is also why you don’t see any fancy food styling going on here. Who really needs food styling when you have all this beautiful, golden brown crispy skin anyway?
Personally, I decided I would let that do almost all the talking for me. 🙂
I’ve been talking about spatchcocking or butterflying a turkey since I made my Mediterranean Roasted Spatchcock Chicken last year. If you want to see step by step photos on how to spatchcock a chicken or turkey, read my post on How To Spatchcock a Chicken and Why You Should Do It. The chicken made me a believer in this cooking method….obviously.
So here we are with a butterflied turkey that may or may not be the picturesque bird you’re looking for on Turkey Day. It’s legs are splayed out, and it almost looks a little alien-like…I admit it. But you try roasting your bird once using this method, and I think you’ll be a believer too. Why on earth would you want to sacrifice a beautiful presentation for a turkey that looks this way?
I’m so glad you asked. 🙂
- Butterflied turkey means there’s more skin exposed, resulting in even more golden brown, crispy skin.
- A 12-14 lb. turkey cooks in a 450 degree oven and cooks in no more than 1.5 hours, which is about half the time as the traditional method.
- Since the turkey is lying flat, it cooks much more evenly, eliminating dry breast meat!
- A flat turkey means it takes up less oven space, creating more room for heating up all those delicious side dishes.
- If you’re making turkey stock for your gravy, you can toss the backbone in for that much more flavor.
If you normally leave your bird unstuffed and don’t take the finished product to the table to get the WOW factor from your guests, there’s really no reason not to spatchcock your turkey. I’ll go so far as to say that the only drawback to doing this was that it resulted in excessive spattering in my oven since it was in a shallow baking sheet. Next time I may try placing the rack in my roasting pan, which will hold more of the drippings, etc.
It was a small price to pay, and my oven needed cleaning anyway. 🙂
Aside from removing the backbone from the turkey, this is one of the easiest recipes ever. Butterflying the turkey didn’t take me long, however I was a little worried that my kitchen sheers might break during the process. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can ask your butcher to do it for you…just make sure you keep the backbone, neck and giblets if you want to make turkey stock and/or gravy. It lends lots of flavor.
I dry brined my turkey, which is a fancy term for salting it generously and leaving it on the pan uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This dries the skin out, which means it will get even crispier. The next day, I sprinkled it with pepper, then rubbed it with an olive oil-paprika mixture and that was it.
There are no bells or whistles here, just perfect turkey that your guests will love. And in the end, that’s what we’re after on Thanksgiving, isn’t it? 🙂
- up to 12-14 lb. turkey, butterflied*
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- The night before you cook the turkey, pat it dry with paper towels and salt it generously with kosher salt. Place it on a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and place in the refrigerator uncovered overnight.
- Position the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and sprinkle it all over with freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Mix the olive oil and paprika together in a small bowl, and rub the turkey evenly with the mixture. Place skin side up in the pan and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers at 165 degrees and the breast registers at 150 degrees.
- Remove from heat and allow to rest loosely covered with foil for about 20-30 minutes before carving. Be sure you don't carve it too soon or the juices won't have redistributed and they'll run all over the cutting board leaving you with a dry bird!
- Carve, serve, and enjoy!
This cooking method is recommended for a turkey weighing no more than 14 lbs. A 14 lb. turkey shouldn't take longer than 1.5 hours, but oven times do vary. If your turkey is smaller than 14 lbs., keep a close eye on it to prevent overcooking.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine, November 2015.