On Thanksgiving, the star of the show is indisputably, the turkey. The wily fowl will be featured on dinner tables across the country, surrounded by a supporting cast of side dishes in the bountiful culinary tradition we, as Americans hold dear. Whether you prefer white meat or dark, stuffing or dressing, there are numerous ways to prepare the dear old bird! This one caught my attention and has the advantage of cooking faster than the usual roasting method.

Spatchcocked Turkey

How to Prepare: (or click here for the complete instructions with photos and video)

  1. Start with the turkey breast-side down. Use poultry shears to cut along both sides of the backbone, beginning at the tail end. If you hit a tough spot, try cutting with just the tip of the shears.  
  2. Set aside backbone (and giblets) for stock. Take hold of both newly cut edges, and open the turkey. Remove any large pieces of fat. Turn the turkey breast-side up.
  3. Place your hand on one side of the breast, close to the breastbone, and push down firmly until you hear a crack. Repeat on the other side. (For better leverage as you work, stand on a step stool.)
  4. Pull the thighs outward so the turkey lies flat, with the wings facing inward. Tuck the wing tips under to secure.
  5. Place the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand for 30 minutes. Use a basting brush to apply oil mixture. To roast turkey, follow the recipe’s instructions.

How to Carve:

A spatchcocked turkey requires a slightly different carving technique than a bird cooked the traditional way, but the basic approach remains the same: Remove the legs and wings, and then slice the breast meat.

  1. With a sharp chef’s knife, remove each leg by cutting through the turkey where the thigh connects to the breast.
  2. At the joint of each leg, cut drumstick from thigh. Transfer thighs and drumsticks to a warm platter. Tent with foil.
  3. On one side, find the joint connecting wing and breast, and cut through it (not shown). Repeat to cut off other wing. Cut breast meat into two pieces, slicing along either side of breastbone.
  4. Slice the breast meat across the grain. Arrange on the platter with the dark meat, and add the wings.

Or try these alternative methods for preparing your bird for the feast.

Deep-Fried Turkey

Brined, Slow-Cooked Turkey Breast

Pan Roasted Turkey Cutlets

Boned, Rolled, and Tied Turkey

Turkey Confit

Salt-and-Pepper Grilled Turkey

Roasted Dry-Brined Turkey

photo from marthastewart.com