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Nov 29, 2010 11:40 AM

I wrestled with the turkey on Thanksgiving and I won!

We had a weather dilemma on Thanksgiving and I tried a new turkey roasting method I thought I would share. Originally, we planned to grill/smoke the 15 lb. turkey outside. Tday morning it was sleeting and in the low 20's and I just couldn't ask my ex-H to sit outside all day, even with a 6-pack of craft beer. As I have one very large oven and was planning lots of sides and other things that need oven temp, I needed to devise a way to cook the 15 lb. turkey pretty quickly. I knew all my "go-to" cookbooks were old-fashioned roasting recommendations and that just wouldn't do. I toyed with the idea of deep fried turkey, but didn't like the idea of setting the lawn on fire, even if it was raining.

Lo & behold, I ran across a food blog from the NYT Food & Wine section that advocated spatchcocking or butterflying the turkey. The recipe promised my 15 lb. turkey would be done in 100 min and I decided to go for broke. First, I had to cut out the backbone. Well, I own some good, sharp chef's knives but no cleaver. This was a kosher bird, so I didn't worry about brining. The ex-H didn't materialize, so just my 2 young adult daughters and me. I took out my plastic cutting board, sharpened my knife on a steel (whetstone) and began the battle. I am not a Pilates-toned, weight lifting woman. In fact, I am in probably pretty average shape. The cutting of the backbone took a lot more effort than if I had been a strong man, but hey, I did it. The kids took a video and laughed their a$$es off at Mom wrestling with the turkey. I took 10 when I finished the right side before I began to tackle the left side of the backbone. It took several good whacks with the chef's knive, but I got off the backbone and decided to take off the wings as well. Threw these in the soup pot with aromatics and the innards to make turkey stock. This was the most flavorful gravy ever.

I used my gigantic broiler pan, which has a 1 1/2 in lip, covered in alum foil, and laid some aromatics on it. Laid the big, butterflied, wingless bird on top. Seasoned it with my custom designed turkey rub and dabbed big pieces of pareve margarine all over it. Poured 1/2 cup apple cider into the pan and set it in a 425 oven at "convection roast" for 45 min. Basted a couple times during cooking. Turned the heat down to 350 and roasted another 60 min. The skin was mahogany brown and very crisp. Tented loosely with alum foil, left standing for 45 min while I made the side dishes. Oh man, that was some good eats! Will never go back to all day roasting again. Only, next year I need to entice someone else to cut out the backbone. My wrists (arthritis) are still aching!

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  1. I loved your report, Diane. I've been trying to get up the nerve to spatchcock a bird, but am afraid I'll wind up with a carcass that looks massacred. I'm hoping to try it with a small chicken soon (once we finish up with this turkey, and I stand the sight of poultry again).

    Congratulations! You took a potentially bad kitchen situation, and managed to make it fun *and* delicious.

    1. what a terrific post. i'm with lily - i've always been afraid of destroying the poor bird, but you've given me hope :)

      glad to hear your holiday was such a delicious success!

      1. Since the bird came out so well and you intend to repeat the process, maybe invest in a good, sharp pair of poultry shears for easier backbone removal?

        1. Even when I use a cleaver or heavy knife for this sort of thing, after getting the blade into the side of the backbone, I use an old rolling pin saved specifically for this purpose to whack on top of the knife to get it through. Work your way up and down the length of the knife.

          1. Next time, ask your butcher to do it. I toyed with the idea of getting one from WF and I felt sure the butcher there would do it for me; instead I just roasted a Kosher one from TJ -- great.