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Spatchcock, a funny name for a faster, juicier Thanksgiving turkey

Spatchcock turkey;  October 20, 2012.

Alexander Cohn photo

Spatchcock turkey; October 20, 2012. Alexander Cohn photo Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Serving spatchcock
for Thanksgiving?

Spatchcock. How’s that for a word? That’s the term for cooking a turkey after the backbone has been removed. I read a recipe for this speedier cooking method in a magazine recently and thought that I would give it a try.

While the cooking time for a 15-pound turkey was a little bit faster (around three hours), the meat was tender and juicy. Since the bird is cut to cook flat, it keeps itself from drying out too quickly.

You will need some shears or sharp scissors and a wide, lidded baking sheet. Keep in mind that the bird will be wider when it is flattened out, so you’ll need a wide pan.

Use the shears to cut the backbone out. This sounds hard if you have never done it, but it is not as daunting as you might think. Once the backbone is out, flip the bird over and push down. You will hear the breast bone snap and it should easily flatten out. Arrange the legs and wings so that they too are as flat as they can be, then add seasoning.

You should not have to add too much oil or butter. The turkey will roast in its own juices. It’s not a bad idea to check during cooking to make sure it does not overflow, depending on the depth of the lid on the cooking tray.

The turkey is not a storybook display coming out of the oven, though it has the same golden hue you might be used to. But since you have already made some cuts, slicing out portions is one step easier


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