Spatchcocking: The origins of the word are pretty much unknown. Its results on a turkey are not, however, and this Thanksgiving you should definitely do it.
"Spatchcocking" means flattening out a bird by removing its backbone and cracking its breast plate. The benefits to this should be obvious, but according to high priestess of life excellence Martha Stewart the main ones are:
- Everything cooks more evenly
- Everything also cooks more quickly
- You can save the extracted bones and parts for stock in other savory treats
I was introduced to spatchcocking by my Tennessee-born grandmother. She would just drop the term "spatchcocked turkey" in the annual litany of Thanksgiving items she'd be serving up (i.e. "Robbie, are you ready for spatchcocked turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffin'?") As I grew older I soon began to notice when a turkey hadn't been spatchcocked. As with most things in life, things turn out better with extra time and effort, and I could tell when someone had just bought a bird and popped it into the oven: the white meat would come out dry, and the dark meat skin would often burn, because it had cooked unevenly.
So, there is literally no reason not to do this…except one. It seems like the act of spatchcocking can be a bit frustrating to perform. I tried to find a good clip of a guy or gal cleanly slicing through a bird. It took some time. In my search, the implements I saw deployed ranged from power saw…
…to scary hacking axe:
This video from the guys at The Bitten Word seemed to have the cleanest demonstration, although they had the benefit of using a smaller bird. The steps are quite simple: cut out the birds backbone, remove the wishbone, and then crack the breastplate with the back of your hand.
According to Stewart, once the spatchcocking is complete, you should let the bird sit out for a bit in a humid-ish room so that it doesn't go into the oven at a dry, refrigerated temperature. Baste/season your bird to taste, cook it for a little over an hour at 450 degrees, and a perfectly roasted turkey should emerge, looking something like this.
Best of luck in your spatchcocking endeavors and Happy Thanksgiving.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.