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:
- How to Cook a Spatchcocked Turkey on Serious Eats, includes a good video demonstration.
- Mark Bittman’s original 2002 recipe or his 2008 video, that makes it super clear how to do and how easy it is.
- An excellent article on Quartz.com: The story of spatchcocking and how Mark Bittman changed Thanksgiving forever.
From the Quartz.com article comes this interesting graph from Google, showing the frequency of searches for the term “spatchcock” over time: