Spatchcocking: Tyler Florence's Revolutionary Technique for Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey in 90 Minutes
Three hours. On average, that’s the amount of time it takes to adequately cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Thanks to an innovative technique from Chef Tyler Florence, however, 90 minutes is all you’ll need this year. During an appearance at last month’s Grand Tasting at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, Tyler gave audiences a demo on spatchcocking a turkey. The process involves removing the poultry’s spine and flattening its breastbone, which not only cuts cook time in half, but also allows for greater heat distribution, making your bird juicier and crispier than ever before.
“If you have a really good pair of kitchen shears, you can totally do this yourself,” Tyler said, kicking off the demo. Of course, you can also stop by your local grocery store or butcher shop and they’ll be happy to do it for you. And though the prospect of cutting out a bird’s backbone may seem scary, Tyler’s spatchcocking method is as easy as flipping, clipping and snipping.
Tyler starts by turning the turkey over so that it is lying on its breast. He then makes four cuts on each side of the bird’s spine, beginning at its tail end and working upward so that its thighs and ribs are detached. Next comes the trickiest snap: the wishbone. Cutting the wishbone may take a few extra cuts, but once it's done, you’re halfway through Tyler’s spatchcocking process.
Next, remove the spine, but don’t make the mistake of throwing it away. “This spine, what we’re cutting out of this, makes a fantastic soup. So this absolutely does not go in the garbage,” Tyler shared.
After the spine has been set aside, take both of the freshly cut sides and open up your bird, removing any large pieces of fat. Once that’s done, flip your turkey back over, skin-side up, and using the heel of your hand as a gavel of sorts, press firmly down on the middle of the turkey’s breast until you hear a loud crack! This will signal that the turkey’s breastbone has given way. Next flatten out the bird’s legs and wings, spreading them so your bird looks as if it is about to do a split. As Tyler put it: “It kind of looks like the turkey is twerking. Like a little turkey twerk.”
Tyler then seasons the bird with a simple mixture of kosher salt, pepper and olive oil so that its natural flavors can shine through while it is roasting. “I don’t want this to taste like apple pie; I don’t want this to taste like pumpkin pie spice. I don’t want this to taste like sage, necessarily. I want it to taste like the most-mind-blowing turkey I’ve ever had,” Tyler said of his decision not to brine his spatchcocked bird.
After it is generously seasoned, the turkey bakes in the oven at 375 degrees F for 90 minutes, leaving you with more time to focus your attention on other Thanksgiving favorites: sides and desserts.
Visit Food Network's Thanksgiving Central for more holiday ideas and recipes.