Spatchcocking Your Thanksgiving Turkey Cuts Cooking Time In Half

There is certainly no shortage of ways to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey. While roasting the whole bird remains the classic cooking method, people all over the country now deep fry, grill, and smoke the bird. You can also barbecue a turkey over a beer can. You can even stuff it with a duck, which has been stuffed with a chicken (known as a turducken). But, if it's serious time you want to save, consider a method called spatchcocking.

Not to be confused with butterflying, spatchcocking a turkey involves removing the backbone and roasting the flattened bird in the oven. By taking this step, your turkey will be done in a fraction of the time it usually takes to roast a whole turkey because all of the skin and meat are evenly exposed to the oven heat. Whereas roasting the intact turkey gives the skin direct heat and keeps the meat covered, a spatchcocked turkey has direct heat all around it while it cooks. It will also decrease the chances of the meat getting overcooked and dry and maximize what is arguably the best part of a roasted turkey: browned, crispy skin.

Crispy skin and juicy meat in one hour

With the spatchcocking method, after you've removed the backbone, you flatten the turkey and roast it skin side up. Typically, you place the turkey on a rack that sits on top of a baking sheet. Because the bird is sitting on the rack, it will have the heat of the oven surrounding it, hitting both the skin and the meat underneath, which slashes the cooking time. With a 12 to 14-pound turkey, it could be done in as little as an hour. And because it's not spending hours in the oven, the meat should be incredibly juicy, even the large breast, which is notoriously difficult to keep moist. With the entirety of the skin sitting on top for the duration of the cooking time, you shouldn't have a shred of sogginess, even on those thighs.

You can still brine the turkey and season it however you'd like before it goes into the oven. Feel free to baste and glaze it as desired as well. Another bonus with the spatchcock method is that carving the bird when it's done couldn't be easier. With the bird flattened, it's easier to see and feel the joints between the breast and wings and thighs and legs. Instead of trying to carve at an angle, you should be able to make firm, vertical cuts and easily separate the turkey pieces. With this method, you'll save time at your next Thanksgiving.