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Butterflying Turkeys

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 


My favorite method for roasting chicken is cutting out the neck/backbone and butterflying it.  It's been wonderfully foolproof for me over the last 14 years.  Has anybody attempted this method with a Turkey?  I imagine cutting through the bones will require similar effort and a slight method adjustment versus chickens, and I have awesome GI pans (and covers) that are great for searing and should be large enough...

I'm getting in a couple turkeys next week, so I've GOT to try it and will report back, but interested in hearing anybody else's experiences or thoughts.


post #2 of 4

Opening a bird like that is called "spatchcocking," fwiw. 


Doing a turkey isn't that much different from a chicken, but yes the ribs are stronger.  You can cut through them with a heavy knife or machete, but a reciprocating saw (like a Sawazall) is much easier.  Just make sure to use a new blade instead of the one you used for cutting drywall. 


Getting the thighs and legs to finish without overcooking the breast can be something of a challenge when grilling a spatchcocked turkey. 



post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Here's the update as I cooked two 18# turkeys as a trial run for Thanksgiving.

I'm thinking I should be doing this for a living - oh wait, I already am!

Best. Turkeys. Ever. Ever. Anywhere. Ever.


I did all this research a couple weeks ago (it's what first brought me to ChefTalk) and the general method out there was roasting the spatchcocked turkey in the oven, with a variation of doing it over stuffing (an idea I love - Thanks, Julia).  The other professional suggestion out there was breaking down the turkeys completely into white and dark meat and cooking them separately.  I wanted to keep the integrity of the turkeys intact as much as possible knowing that the juices would stay in the bird much better that way, and I simply wanted to use the method I employ for roasting whole chickens and apply it to turkeys.


Here's what I did:

I cut out the backbones, made a gash in the top of the keel bone with my knife and pressed down to flatten the turkey further, and did a general prep on the birds including a token salt and pepper rub inside.

I rubbed a very light coating of oil on the skin and laid each bird down in very hot GI Pan covers that I use for searing and large-batch pan-frying.  I used no oil in the pans themselves.  Each pan covered 2 burners so I had to be aware of too-hot spots.  Searing took about 10-12 minutes and rendered quite a bit of fat and left the skin crispy and looking amazing!  Using 2 pairs of heavy-duty tongs (I own no others) I transferred the turkeys to a sheetpan, skin side up.  Between the processing of the birds, the spatchcocking process and the searing, there was some disconnect at the point where the thigh meets the bottom part of the breasts on 1 of the birds so I used the other bird and a couple pieces of bunched-up foil to keep the thighs against that thinnest and most-easily overcooked part of the bird.  I put them inside my CresCor Roast-and-Hold oven at 310F for 1 1/2 hours and then had the hold temp dropping down to 140.  I was too involved with something else  when the hour-and-half was up so pulled them out about 20 minutes later and the temp on the breast was in the mid-150s, thigh was over 170.  They looked and smelled perfect.  My intent was to have them just a bit undercooked so I could use this method for Thanksgiving, getting all the work done on Wednesday and finishing them up on Thanksgiving day.  When I broke them down an hour later they couldn't have been more perfectly cooked.  The legs and thighs were completely cooked and the breasts were just this side of done - the thickest internal parts of the breast had that slight shading of pink, but the meat had the proper look and texture.  Perfectly cooked, and able to handle a gentle reheating with some stock under it.  The 2 turkeys yielded about 3 cups of delicious au jus (after fat removal).


I feel great going into my first Thanksgiving under my new catering business - these turkeys are going to blow people away!



post #4 of 4

I've done this only with the keel breast. I gets boned and sometimes gets stuffed with spinich, pine nuts parmasean cheese, and sometime parma ham, salt and pepper thoroughly, roll itup wrap it tight with plastic wrap, then foil. Cook til 145or 150 degrees, then take it out and let it brown til 160.Let it rest then slice and it is one of the easiest and juiciest turkeys I ever had. The plasic doesn't burn or melt and it keeps in all the juices.

There is another recipe I have only done once and I cant find the original anymore, If anyone knows I would be happy to have again. I read it in cosmo about thirty year ago and they said that it was some very old recipe,anyway take the bird cut the bones out stuff it with your own bread stuffing. Heres the unique part take 6 to 10 onions put them in a food pro until its a paste add the salt and spices that you wish and cover the bird with this pureed onion bake at 350 till done and it creates thi black burned crust on the bird, peel it off and you have this wonderfully browned turkey  underneath. Now I didn't write this recipe down it had some forty ingredients to it and I didn't think much of it at the time. The obvius factor is the onion puree. The way I made it, it came out wonderfully. If I remember right this was some sort of historic recipe or some thing like that, but it came out well and I was surprised. You can alway try a chicken or something and tweek it to your own tastes. 

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