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Spatchcocked turkey in 80 minutes

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SKILL LEVEL :
Easy and quick

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.

Click to download our free e-cookbook: 3 Fabulous Turkey Recipes Guaranteed To Be Spectacular

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.

Spatchcocked Turkey In 80 Minutes | Something New For Dinner

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.

Spatchcocked Turkey In 80 Minutes | Something New For Dinner

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:

Cooking Thermometer | Something New For Dinner

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.

Garnish

I garnish the turkey with fresh grapes, parsley and slices of fuji persimmons.

 

Spatchcocked turkey in 80 minutes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 12

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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the vegetables and apple pieces over a 13" x 18" half baker sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl combine mayonnaise and chopped herbs. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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16 COMMENTS

Comments

  1. JR says:

    What a waste of a perfectly good fresh butterball turkey. I was sceptical and should have listened to my instincts. The breast was done but the rest of the bird was tough and definately underdone. Never again.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi JR,

      I am sorry your spatchcocked turkey did not work out. I’m trying to understand what may have gone wrong. The point of spatchcocking turkey is to: 1) Speed up the cooking process, 2) Achieve more even cooking of the breast and the legs, and 3) Achieve great crispy skin. The turkey needs to be cooked at a very high heat. Did you roast it at 450 degrees? Also, did you use a meat thermometer to determine when it was done? Using an accurate thermometer is the key to determining when a turkey is done. For a spatchcocked turkey you will want to check the internal temperature of both the breasts and the legs. Possible problems include: 1) Your turkey was not cooked long enough 2) Your turkey was cooked at a lower temperature or 3) your actual oven temperature is not accurate.

  2. pat says:

    Well this was a new experience that I will not do again. I had a larger bird, so I split the bird in two to fit on two pans. Definitely a project to remove the backbone!! Chain saw would have worked wonders. Followed the directions exactly. After the bird was cooked to the correct temperature , some of the mayo was still in raw form. I needed to clean off the mayo from the bird. Alright, everything still going ok. Carved the bird and served to company. No one was raving.. I had a few mannerly..this is good comments. It was edible! but something was wrong with the texture of the white meat.. don’t know about the dark meat as i don’t eat it!!! The white meat was not dry..but the texture was odd!! Can’t explain the texture , but I only ate a few bites..thank goodness for tons of side dishes. No one wanted to take any turkey home..only desserts. I will use the leftover turkey for escarole soup.

    I did not consider this a successful holiday dinner! Very disappointed.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I spatchcocked my turkey for the first time last year and will NEVER go back. Looking forward to trying the mayonnaise sauce. Thank you for the suggestion to toast on a bed of veg! Great idea. Will flavor the drippings beautifully for the gravy.

  4. Tim says:

    I always spatchcock my turkeys! It’s a much easier, tastier way of cooking. Also, I indirect cook on a Weber grill.
    My poultry shears are Victorinox. Good shears are a must!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      HI Tim, I bet your spatchcocked and grilled turkeys are delicious. I am a big fan of Victorinox products. Great products at reasonable prices. Happy New Years!

  5. Tiffani says:

    Yes! I’m a convert too! Thank you soooo much for this! I am NOT a cook and have NEVER EVER done anything as ambitious as the Thanksgiving turkey but this last year i got crazy and took it on. At the last minute, i found this recipe, ditched my Youtube recipe plans, gave my husband a heart-attack (nearly 😉 discussing my 90-minute turkey plans, and ROCKED it! It was i think a ~13lb turkey as i recall and the breast even came out soooo ridiculously juicy that i was concerned it needed more cooking time (though the temp and color were perfect) and stuck it back in for a bit, making it lose just a bit of its tenderness. The herbs and juices were heavenly! I’ve been sharing this idea with friends for months! Thanks again! =)

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thank you Tiffani for the great review of this recipe. I’m so glad it was such a great success. My husband asks that we have turkey more often. This easy preparation makes turkey a viable option all year long.

  6. Bob Barron says:

    Spatchcocked turkey and chicken is the only way to go in my opinion. Juicy meat, crispy skin, divine flavor. I will never roast a bird any other way again.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      I’m with you Bob! Have you seen our Bacon-Wrapped Spatchcocked Turkey? It’s pretty awesome!

  7. Tome T. says:

    I have been spatchcocking now for about 4 years. It is the BEST and quickest method for roasting a great turkey. I also brine first, and have been bringing for years. Brining will guarantee VERY moist white meat that will even be moist when you make cold turkey sandwiches the next few days.

    Combing brining with spatchcocking has become THE method for roasting my turkey. There is no reason to go back to any other method.

    Also, the other thing I FINALLY learned for the most crisp skin with very little effort. DRY the skin and do not add anything. This of course is due to the brining. Brining seasons the turkey will salt and all the other dry herbs I use, so no reason to season the skin or oil it or put but or mayonaise on it. The crispiest skin on any poultry comes from roasting a DRY skin clear and free of anything added to it.

    I can see how the mayo recipe can work, but honestly, with brining I see no reason to add anything to the skin. If one is not brining, then the mayo recipe sounds like a winner.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thanks for sharing your method Tome!

  8. Elizabeth Crane says:

    I love this method! I’ve been doing it at home this way for the past two years and I’m going to do the big thanksgiving dinner for the family with it this year! Love this recipe

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thanks for writing in Elizabeth. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  9. Antoinette says:

    Have spatchcocked my poultry for years. But..I cook at 300 degrees for a few hours covered, then uncover and turn up the heat to 400 to crisp up the skin. Always comes out very moist ! Wouldn’t do it any other way.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Sounds like a great method if you have the extra time.

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