Recipe: Spatchocking a turkey by David Theiss |

Recipe: Spatchocking a turkey by David Theiss

David Theiss

Thinking about that delicious turkey for Thanksgiving this year. Brace yourself, turkeys have had a rough year. USDA reported more than 7.8 million birds were affected by an avian flu, limiting fresh turkey supplies. Larger fresh turkeys are in short supply, along with the always higher price associated with supply and demand. With short supply of fresh turkeys, you should probably get your order in early. I was told to get my turkey count to the growers early this year so I would be assured to get my fresh turkeys. On the other hand, frozen turkeys are still available and in good supply as most of these birds were processed and frozen last year previous to the breakout.

I have suggestion that might save you some time and create a new tradition for your holiday dinner. It's called spatchcocking. In recent years, this style of turkey preparation has grown in popularity, along with brining. The term "spatchcock" has been around for hundreds of years, though no one can agree on how it came about. Spatchcocking a turkey or any other type of fowl refers to removing the back bone and cooking it flat. It resembles butterflying, so each half of the bird is flat on the cooking surface. There are several benefits in preparing your turkey this way:

Cooking time — you can cook a 12-pound turkey in about 90 minutes

Juicier meat, especially when brined

Crispier skin

More even cooking

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Once spatchcocked, brining adds a different flavor profile, but isn't necessary to get a delicious, juicer turkey. Many commercial brines are available on the market. We make and sell our own in three flavors.

It's best to brine your turkey overnight to get those flavors deep inside. I also suggest a few sage and herb butter pats tucked under the skin, as this helps baste the turkey, adding still another layer of flavor while cooking. Now you're ready for the turkey to go in the oven.


1 cube salted butter room temperature. Add 1/2 teaspoon chopped (fresh if you have it) sage, rosemary and thyme. Mix together until all herbs are combined with the butter. Scoop the mixture into a zip top bag. Push all contents to the bottom and roll, making a round tube. Put in the refrigerator at least an hour before using it.


Cooking time for a 12-14-pound bird

This process can be completed by standing it on end breast, legs up, back facing you. Now hanging on to the tail, take sharp shears or knife and cut down each side of the back bone to remove it. There's a breast bone that should be cracked in order for the turkey to lay flat.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place turkey flat side down. Pull up skin, and stuff six or eight pats of sage herb butter under the skin. Be sure to replace the skin over the meat.

Place in oven and let bake for one hour and 20 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 155 degrees. Be sure not to let the skin burn. If the turkey is getting to brown, you may place a foil cover over it. Remove and let rest. The turkey will continue to cook to its perfect temperature of 160-165 degrees. During this time, take a little of the sage herb butter and rub over the top of the skin.

Buon appetito! Spatchocking is fairly easy, but if you find this too difficult, we would be glad to cut it for you. Also available at our store is the sage herb butter and the turkey brines for your convenience.

David Theiss is a longtime resident of Carson City owner of Butler Gourmet meats in Carson City.