Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Rescue – Spatchcock Turkey

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. – Richard Carlson 
Amazing sage-orange-butter basted turkey, ready in less than 2 hours.

First, let's get the formality out of the way. Merry Christmas to you and your families. May the joy and peace of the season be with you throughout the coming year.

Peace and joy to you today and through 2014!
But did you get everything you wished for this particular day? If it’s more time with your family, and less stress in the kitchen, this post is my gift to you. 

Imagine a 4.5 kg (that’s 10 lb!) roasted turkey that’s ready – from the oven – in about 1 hour 15 minutes. That's how long mine took.

Sometimes there’s just not enough time on Christmas day to get everything ready. Especially if you have to start “that bird” several hours before everything else. It makes for a long day tethered to the stove.

You can cut that tether by spatchcocking your turkey.

What is spatchcocking?
The secret – if you can call it that – is in “spatchcocking” the beast. Spatchcock is one of those words whose meaning has changed over time. 

Originally, a spatchcock was a juvenile chicken or game bird. These birds we generally butterflied for much faster cooking than when left whole. 

Today, spatchcocking (butterflying) is removing the backbone from poultry and flattening the breastbone by firmly pressing it down with your hands.

In this way the meat is all of fairly even thickness and will cook in the same time. Poultry is notorious for having dry breast meat and undercooked dark meat. This technique minimizes that problem.

When you look at the pictures you will see mine is in two pieces. That was an unfortunate circumstance of not being in my own kitchen. I had it beautifully spatchcocked but I did this at my mother’s house using her bakeware.

When the time came to put the flattened turkey in a pan I couldn’t find one large enough. So I finished the cut through and roasted it in two halves. The principle is the same. .

If you’re like most folks who don’t have a massive banquet table your bird probably doesn’t make it to the table whole anyway. That makes spatchcocking a very convenient option.

Being tied to the kitchen takes a lot of fun out of any holiday. With this recipe you can cut your time in half for your Thanksgiving turkey. Enjoy your family, rather than talking to them from the kitchen door!

This wasn’t a Christmas bird – our stress has yet to occur today – so I served simply, with fresh French bread, and carrots and beans that were boiled and then fried briefly in a little butter, honey and nutmeg. Mmmmm...

Sage Roasted Spatchcock Turkey
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook: 1.5 hr, maximum
4.5 kg turkey, butterflied
the herb butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
grated rind of 1 orange
1 pinch each of salt and pepper
the baste
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch each of pepper and salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Take out any “extras” that come inside the bird and set aside. Place your victim on a large tray or clear countertop. This can get a bit messy and you need a little room.

With a pair of sharp kitchen shears cut down on both sides of the backbone from the neck to the tail. Remove and set aside with the other pieces. Trim off the first joint of each wing as well.

Remove any extra skin and set it aside also. These pieces can be made into stock by simmering in water with onion, carrot, celery and herbs. If they’re meaty you could turn that stock into soup.

Place the bird skin-side up and press down on the breastbone with both hands until you hear a crack. The bird will then flatten out.

Loosen the skin from the bird with your fingers. You don’t have to do all the skin, just most of the breast, thigh and partially down each leg. Mix the butter, sage, rind and a little salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spread the mixture evenly under the skin.

Place the turkey in a large pan big enough to accommodate it flat. Take the juice of the orange and whisk it with the oil, salt and pepper. Brush the surface with the mixture, reserving any extra.

Roast the bird for between 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes until the internal temperature reads 180°F. Test the breast and thigh with an instant read thermometer.

Brush the surface of the skin partway through with the remaining basting liquid.

When done, remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.


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