We’ve all been there:
For a juicy roast turkey, cook bird for 5 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
If a turkey was all you were cooking on Thanksgiving Day, this might be doable. But it’s not. You need your oven free to bake the yams and green bean casserole and all that other stuff you signed up for. In short, you need your turkey to go from slimy and raw…
…to crispy, golden and juicy without taking an eternity!
Spatchcocking is a horrible-and-slightly-illegal-sounding term that basically means “removing the backbone.” It’s the only way I prepare a turkey because:
- My turkey is done in under 2 hours
- Every inch of skin on the turkey gets golden and crisp
- I don’t have a huge, nasty carcass to clean up later.
So if a crisp-skinned juicy roast turkey that cooks in 2 hours or less sounds like the turkey of your dreams, try spatchcocking this Thanksgiving!
How to Get A Crisp-skinned, Juicy Roast Turkey in 2 Hours*
*2 hours does not include prep time
If you are using a frozen turkey, put it in the fridge to thaw today. (My 10-pounder took a good 3 days to thaw and even then it still had ice in its cavity.)
Task 1: Spatchcock the turkey.
Step 1: Remove packaging from the turkey and give it a good rinse.
Step 2: Remove the neck and giblets from all their little hiding places and set aside. You will need these goodies for the turkey stock and broth.
Step 3: With a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, carefully remove the backbone from your turkey. I like to cut up one side first….
…and then down the other side.
Step 4: Cut away the excess fat from the backbone and discard.
Step 5: Remove any rib bone shards from the back and discard.
Step 6: Make an incision in the breast bone with a sharp knife. Then flip the bird over and press down to break the bone. (I realize how graphic this whole process sounds.)
Task 2: Brine the turkey
Is this step really worth it? YES! I’ve brined, and I’ve not brined, and every time I don’t, I wind up regretting it. To brine your bird:
- Add 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of pepper and your choice of fresh or dried herbs to a tall stock pot.
- Fill pot with 1-2 gallons of cold water and swirl to dissolve.
- Set your bird in the brine breast-side down. If the bird is not mostly submerged, add more water until it is.
- Cover the pot and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Task 3: Prepare the stock.
Remember all those turkey parts you set aside?
They are chock-full of homemade-stock goodness! Place the neck and back in a large stockpot and cover with 8 cups of water. Toss in:
- a rib of celery
- a couple cloves of garlic, smashed
- a small onion, peeled and quartered
- a handful of fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Simmer over medium-low heat for one hour, skimming as needed. Strain and cool; then place in refrigerator.
THURSDAY: 2-1/2 HALF HOURS BEFORE DINNER
Preheat oven to 450˚ and place the rack in the lower middle slot.
Remove the bird from the brine and place on a sturdy baking sheet with the drumsticks folded inward and the wings untucked. Thoroughly dry the entire surface and all crevices of the turkey with paper towels. Discard brine.
Rub the entire bird with half a stick of softened butter. Carefully rub the butter under the skin, as well. Next, brush the entire bird with olive oil; this helps “seal” the butter.
Season all over with salt and pepper. Feel free to use whatever seasonings or herbs you like (I also use smoked paprika).
Tuck in wings and place the bird in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
At then end of the 45 minutes, brush the bird with the pan juices
Lightly cover the breast with tented foil. Place the turkey into the oven facing the opposite way you started roasting it and bake for another 45 minutes.
Place a meat thermometer into one of the legs. If it reads at least 190 degrees, the turkey is done. If it’s lower or the juices run pink, place the turkey in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Transfer bird to a platter and cover with foil and allow bird to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
Cut your lovely turkey into pieces. I start with the drumsticks, then wings, then drummettes, then thighs, then breast.
Serve with this foolproof gravy and everything else that is delicious about Thanksgiving.
What’s your favorite way to roast a turkey?
- 1 10-13 pound turkey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- olive oil
- Rib of celery
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
- Bunch of parsley
- Thaw turkey completely.
- Using sharp scissors, cut the back out of the turkey. With a sharp knife cut the breast bone. Flip turkey over and press on the breast bone until it collapses.
- In a large stock pot or pasta pot, add 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1-2 gallons of cold water. Stir to dissolve. Place turkey in brine breast-side-down. If the turkey is not completely submerged, add more water. Cover and place in the fridge. Brine for up to 24 hours.
- To make turkey stock, place the neck and back (cut off as much fat and skin as possible) in a stock pot. Add celery, garlic,onion, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cover with 8 cups of water. Simmer for 1 hour over medium heat, skimming as needed. Strain, cool and refrigerate until needed.
- Remove turkey from brine and pat completely dry. Place breast-side up on a heavy baking sheet. Rub with butter all over and under skin. Brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper or your favorite seasonings. Tuck wings in.
- Place in a 450-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove and brush with pan drippings. Tent breast with foil.
- Rotate turkey and bake another 45 minutes.
- Transfer turkey to a platter and cover with foil. Allow bird to rest 15-20 minutes before carving.
- Save pan drippings for gravy.