Half the fun of cooking poultry using the “spatchcock” method is being able to say that funny word. But it’s also a truly awesome method to cook chickens, and, as Mark Bittman has advocated since 2002, can be used to cut turkey roasting time from several hours to less than one. That can transform Thanksgiving as we know it.
Spatchcocking is simply a technique in which a chicken or turkey is butterflied by removing the back bone, so it can lay flat on a grill or roasting pan. Eliminating the bird’s cavity eliminates the biggest challenge when roasting a turkey or chicken, because it enables the heat to be more carefully controlled and not wasted on the vacant space. (Stuffing a turkey reduces the variability, too, but extends cooking time and also creates some food safety issues if the temperature isn’t monitored carefully.)
Here are a couple of resources to learn about spatchcocking turkey and how to do it:
This weekend is the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. It’s hard to think of a more food-obsessed city, so this will be a weekend of discovery. New commercial products, inventive chef creations, and a chance to explore the food scene of the Northwest. Here are a couple of images from the first few hours.
In addition to tasting plenty of interesting food (it’s ok for you to be jealous,) there’s real work here, and real learning. One excellent session earlier today focused on food photography, specifically how to break out of the cliche pictures that so many of us take.
One of Seattle’s top chefs, Thierry Rautureau (thechefinthehat.com) of Loulay restaurant, demonstrated how to make a simple fresh tomato soup with just a few ingredients pureed in a blender. He suggests freezing the puree in bags, then defrost and puree again with olive oil right before serving.
An emerging theme of the conference is the promotion of vegetables to center stage instead of side dish. Food writer Karen Page told the bloggers that people around the world – and especially in industrialized countries like the United States – are catching on to the idea that vegetables hold the flavors that makes dishes exciting. Chef Thierry favors brining vegetables to add spice to Thanksgiving dinner, or lightly pickling celery sticks to make the crunchy bites a bit more interesting.
Advice from the French chef: Don’t freeze squash. “Zucchini is great vegetable to shred and put it right on a grill, but if you freeze it, you have a mushy blah thing,” says Rautureau.