Spatchcocked turkey in 80 minutes
The fastest Thanksgiving turkey you will ever make (and maybe the best)
For years I have been brining my turkey a day in advance, filling it with my family's favorite stuffing and roasting it for 5 or 6 hours. As of this year, I am over that - no more brining and no more stuffing. I made two great turkey recipes this year for our September Thanksgiving. (Holidays happen early when you are a food blogger.) Bacon-wrapped turkey was exceptional, and I encourage you to try it. But this spatchcocked turkey was also fabulous and moist. It was my husband's favorite of the two turkeys. And it is done in a mere 80 minutes, not much longer than it takes to conventionally roast a chicken!
The secret to a fully cooked spatch cock turkey in 80 minutes is to roast the turkey in a very hot 450 degree oven. I learned this from the smart people over at Serious Eats.
Spatchcocking is your friend
Spatchcocking or butterflying your turkey accomplishes a lot. It dramatically reduces the time it takes to cook a turkey. Virtually all of the skin is roasted on top so you get more great crispy skin instead of the soggy stuff at the bottom of the turkey. The turkey cooks evenly with no more dried out bits and pieces.
How to spatchcock a large turkey
There are a couple methods. My favorite is to ask the butcher to do it for me. I know, it is a little lazy and wussy-like, but there is more than enough to do for Thanksgiving. I believe any help you can get is great. Generally, there is no extra charge to have the butcher spatchcock for you. If your butcher is not familiar with the term spatchcock, just ask him to butterfly it for you.
Alternatively you can buy yourself a pair of sturdy poultry shears and spatchcock the bird yourself.
Spatchcocking a chicken is fairly easy, but a turkey requires a little more muscle. You remove the backbone by cutting on either side. Once the bone is removed, flip the turkey over, spread it out and push down hard to flatten it.
How to spatchcock a small turkey
Unless you have a large oven and a very large roasting pan or baking sheet, you will want to limit the size of your spatchcocked turkey to 12-14 pounds. The reason is when you spatchcock a turkey and spread it out, the turkey takes up a lot of real estate. I find a 12-14 pound turkey is the maximum size I can fit on a baker's 13 x 18" half sheet. As you can see a 14-pounder's legs peek over the edge of the pan.
Or split a large turkey down the middle
You can spatchcock a larger turkey, cut it in half down the middle and put each half on separate baking pans. I did this with a 15-pounder and it worked great.
Roast on a bed of veggies
No roasting rack is required, just spread the spatchcocked turkey on a bed of chopped vegetables. I don't even bother with peeling the carrots. Once the turkey is cooked the juices remaining in the pan are great for making gravy.
The secret sauce
My friend Sue taught me how to make this turkey. There is a secret sauce that makes it incredible. And you won't believe how easy it is. Here is the secret: mayonnaise and fresh herbs. I know mayonnaise does not sound enticing, but it makes for a delicious and incredibly moist turkey. I use parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, just like the Simon and Garfunkel song.
Pam, another friend of mine, told me mayonnaise is an old Southern secret for roasting turkey. And then there is Thomas Keller, of The French Laundry restaurant in Napa, who is famous for his mayonnaise turkey. He makes homemade aioli, which is definitely an option, but I think you will be quite happy with the results you get from Best Foods.
And the secret method
Half of the mayonnaise herb mixture is spread under the skin and half of the mayonnaise is spread over the skin. The turkey is seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and roasted in a hot 450 degree oven. The result is a moist, perfectly done turkey with delicious crispy skin.
A good thermometer is key
The only safe way to tell when a turkey is done is to take its internal temperature. This is the thermometer I use:
I take the turkey out of the oven when it is 155 to 160 degrees. Then I let it rest for 30 minutes. The turkey continues to cook and will reach a safe 165 degrees by the time you carve it.
I garnish the turkey with fresh grapes, parsley and slices of fuji persimmons.
Spatchcocked turkey in 80 minutes
Who says it takes all day to roast a great turkey? This incredibly moist turkey with crackly, crispy skin roasts in 80 minutes and is a cinch to prepare. You will love it!
- 3 carrots, chopped into 3" pieces
- 2 onions, cut into 8 wedges
- 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped into 1" slices
- 1 apple cut into 8 wedges
- 3 stalks celery, cut into 3" pieces
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 large handful mixed herbs, roughly chopped (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme)
- 1 12-pound turkey (14 pounds is absolute maximum unless you split in in half and cook on two baking sheets)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the vegetables and apple pieces over a 13" x 18" half baker sheet. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl combine mayonnaise and chopped herbs. Set aside.
- Slip your hands under the turkey skin to separate the skin from the flesh. Rub one half of the mayonnaise and herb mixture under the skin. Massage the remaining mayonnaise herb mixture over the skin. Season aggressively with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Roast the turkey at 450 for about 80 minutes, until the internal temperature is between 155 and 160 degrees. Keep an eye on the turkey and cover with foil if the skin begins to get too brown. Check internal temperature after 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving. The turkey will continue to cook out of the oven and the internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees.
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