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Kitchen Hack: How to Cook a Turkey with Spatchcocking

Kitchen Hack: How to Cook a Turkey with Spatchcocking


    Easter Weekend is fast approaching. Chocolate Easter Bunnies have been prominently displayed in the supermarket aisles for several weeks now, and on my way into town the local Catholic church had posted its liturgical schedule for Holy Week for all to see.   Lent is officially finished, and its time to celebrate!

    Easter Bunnies and Good Friday Mass aside, for most of us this means some kind of familial get-together with the ubiquitous turkey dinner – a prospect that strikes fear and dread into those uninitiated in the preparations of large family dinners.

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    I’m here to tell you that you that there is a little culinary trick you can pull out on Easter Sunday to speed up the process of turkey dinner. Preparing a full-on turkey dinner needn’t require a day of being chained to the kitchen stove. It involves hacking your turkey — quite literally — with a technique known as spatchcocking.

    And once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back!

    What the heck is Spatchcocking?

    It sounds titillating, but spatchcocking is nothing more than cutting the backbone out of a bird in order to flatten it out. Sometimes the sternum (chest bone) is removed, but in my minimalist kitchen I just lean on the breast to crack the breastbone.

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    Why, you ask, would one want to do this?

    Grilled chicken was the original fast food way back in medieval days, and if you are grilling a bird it is eminently more practical to cook it flat. Everything not only cooks more quickly that way, but also cooks more evenly. Those craving dark meat can dine at the same time as the white meat afficionados.

    The bonus for those of us with today’s “mod-cons” is that this method works equally well in the oven — and for poultry of any size or shape. I have spatchcocked everything from turkeys to ducks to quail…and everything in between!

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    The other (and in my mind, more important) reason is the exposed skin to oven ratio is nearly doubled, meaning more crispy skin!

    Spatchcocking 101

    1. Acquire a turkey. Somewhere between 10-12 lbs is best. Something that will actually fit on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a large roasting pan.
    2. Spend the morning with your family and/or friends. Lawn bowling or croquet are quite nice at this time of the year (at least in my neck of the woods).
    3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
    4. Get yourself a hefty pair of sharp kitchen shears. They need to be able to cut through bone. This can be done with a sturdy chef’s knife, but kitchen shears are much easier.
    5. Take all the bits (gizzards, necks, etc.) out of the turkey. You can put these in the bottom or your roasting pan with a couple of thick onion slices to help with the gravy.
    6. Place the turkey breast side up.
    7. Flip the turkey over so the backbone is facing up.
    8. Starting at the pope’s nose (or tail), cut up one side of the backbone and down the other to completely remove it.
    9. Flip the turkey over and let the legs “splay” out.
    10. Pretend you are giving the turkey CPR, and give it a couple of chest compressions until you hear the breastbone crack.
    11. Slather the turkey with a coating of oil or butter (your preference). Season liberally and place in the oven.
    12. Roast for approximately 70-90 minutes — until the thigh meat registers 160 degrees. Cover it loosely with foil and let it rest about 15 minutes before carving while you fuss with the vegetables, toss the salad, and make the gravy.

    But what about the stuffing?

    Stuffing the turkey merely slows down the whole process, and there is always more than one way to get your stuffing fix. Sure, you get moist stuffing, but in the back of your mind there will always be the lingering question as to whether the innermost reaches of the turkey actually cooked enough to avoid food poisoning. If you like moist stuffing, douse your cornbread with a liberal mixture of eggs and buttermilk before popping it in the oven.

    After you get the turkey in the oven, you can easily get a batch of cornbread-sausage stuffing going on the stovetop, and finish it in the oven in a covered casserole dish while the turkey is cooking.

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    Conclusion

    Now that you’ve been introduced to spatchcocking, try it out with poultry of all kinds. And remember…it works in the oven, but works equally well on the grill for your summer barbecuing. Try it for Easter dinner as a warm-up for all those backyard summer parties coming up.

    (Photo credit: Spatchcock Whole Chicken via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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