Spatchcock Mishap: When Your Butcher Doesn’t Quite Deliver

A turkey cooked via the unconventional technique of patchcocking has a crispier skin and more even cooking throughout. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the next big craze to hit pickleball courts. The presentation is a bit, well… the cooked bird won’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting. However, the taste is worth every bit of weird looks your dinner guests might throw your way.

A spatchcocked turkey is roasted flattened out. Seeing a turkey resting in a roasting pan is a great way to understand why this is advantageous. With the traditional.

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends, and, of course, a delicious turkey feast. But what happens when your perfectly planned bird arrives not quite as expected?

When Food52 user Mark ordered a spatchcocked turkey, he was surprised to see that it was just cut in half with the backbone still in place. This made him wonder if he would be able to save the bird and still have a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Spatchcocking 101: A Quick Recap

For those unfamiliar with the term, spatchcocking involves removing the backbone of a poultry, resulting in a flat bird that cooks more evenly and quickly. This method is a favorite among many for its crispy skin and juicy meat.

Mark’s Dilemma: A Butcher’s Blunder

Mark’s butcher, unfortunately, didn’t quite grasp the essence of spatchcocking Instead of removing the backbone, they simply halved the turkey, leaving Mark with a bird that wasn’t quite what he had envisioned.

The Community Comes to the Rescue

Thankfully, the Food52 community came together to support Mark and provided a plethora of recommendations and guidance. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Embrace the Braise: Steph suggested turning the situation into a delicious braised turkey, ensuring perfectly cooked pieces.
  • Rib Cage Concerns: Alygator’s question about the rib cage was addressed by Susan W., who assured that the ribs wouldn’t be an issue and the cooked bird would be easy to carve.
  • DIY Spatchcocking: Amanda S. recommended removing the backbone oneself using sharp kitchen shears, effectively turning the halved bird into a spatchcocked one.
  • Double the Fun: If removing the backbone seemed daunting, Amanda S. also suggested treating the two halves as separate pieces and cooking them side-by-side.
  • Lessons Learned: ChefJune, while acknowledging the butcher’s error, emphasized the importance of finding a butcher who understands the nuances of spatchcocking.

Mark’s Thanksgiving Triumph

Armed with the community’s wisdom, Mark tackled the situation head-on, successfully transforming his butcher’s blunder into a Thanksgiving feast. He expressed his gratitude for the invaluable advice, ensuring his holiday meal was a success despite the initial setback.

While Mark’s experience highlights the importance of finding a competent butcher, it also showcases the power of community support. With a little ingenuity and the guidance of fellow food enthusiasts, even a spatchcocking mishap can be turned into a delicious and memorable Thanksgiving meal.

How do you spatchcock your turkey, and what is Spatchcocking Turkey?

First of all, the quality of your turkey matters. Select a healthy, fresh turkey from a reputable local butcher like The Butcher Shop.

You’ll need a good pair of poultry shears and a pairing knife. Use paper towels to pat dry your turkey after thoroughly rinsing it inside and out in cool water.

Next, lay your fresh or thawed bird on a large cutting board with the breast side down. Use the poultry sheer to cut along the backbone. You may need to use a little more force while holding the bird firmly in order to break through some of the more rigid bones. Apply the same technique to the opposite side of the backbone before removing the bird’s entire backbone. However, save it—it will taste great in gravy! Use the poultry shears to trim off any excess fat from the bird.

Now, use the pairing knife to cut along both sides of the wishbone so you can remove it. Removing the wishbone will make it easier to carve after it’s cooked.

Spread the bird’s legs and wings, then give it a single, powerful chest compression by applying firm pressure to its breast. You should hear the bones crack. Tuck the wing tips underneath to keep them steady throughout the cooking process. And there you have it: a flattened, spatchcocked turkey.

How should you roast your spatchcocking turkey?

  • A fresh, TBS turkey
  • A sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped
  • A bundle of fresh thyme
  • 3 to 4 cups of chicken or turkey stock
  • Bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ cup of butter
  • ¼ cup of flour

Preheat your oven to 450° F.

Select a baking sheet that is large enough to hold the turkey. Cover it in foil, and then scatter a mixture of chopped onions, carrots, celery onto the sheet. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a couple of bay leaves. To hold the chopped pieces in place, spread the turkey over the vegetable and cover it with a thin wire rack. Season the bird with salt and pepper. Place the turkey in the oven and set the timer for 75 minutes.

While your turkey is roasting, you can begin to prepare the gravy. Use a meat cleaver to chop up the backbone into several 2-inch pieces. Put a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and brown the backbones. Add several handfuls of finely chopped carrots, celery, and onion; sauté until the onions start to soften. Add two bay leaves and another handful of thyme sprigs, then add three to four cups of chicken or turkey stock. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain the cooked mixture into a heat-safe bowl.

In a separate saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter and ¼ cup flour, whisking the mixture until it begins to turn golden. Slowly, whisk in the strained stock a little bit at a time.

Once the timer goes off, check the turkey’s temperature with a meat thermometer. You’ll know the bird is done when the thickest portions of the bird register at about 160° F. Remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a cutting board. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving it. While you are waiting, transfer the drippings from the baking sheet into your gravy. Whisk the mixture together.

Are you ready to try spatchcocking a turkey? You can choose how to carve the bird, but the end result will be a delicious gravy and a perfectly roasted turkey.

Spatchcocked Turkey | Better. Faster. Juicier.


What is the downside of Spatchcock?

The most common complaint about spatchcocking is that it “just doesn’t look right”.

Will a butcher spatchcock a chicken for me?

If you want it broken down into breasts and thighs, we can do that. If you want it spatchcocked, where the backbone is removed and chicken is flattened, we can do that. Just ask!

How many minutes per pound for spatchcock turkey?

A spatchcocked whole turkey will cook more quickly than a standard turkey. While the spatchcock turkey cooking time will depend on the size and oven temperature, 6 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb. Depending on the size of the turkey, cook times are estimated between 60-90 minutes.

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