Butterflying a turkey takes a little muscle, but there is plenty of crispy skin in this Orange and Sage Spatchcocked Turkey. And the cooking time gets cut in half, too!
I truly love the Thanksgiving meal. In fact, I love it so much, I could eat it throughout the year, and not just in November. I especially love a roasted turkey. Yes, I’m one of those people who buys an extra on sale, after the holidays, and store it in my freezer to enjoy months later.
To roast a turkey traditionally may seem like a daunting task, especially for the novice cook. I’ve already shared how to roast a turkey traditionally. But today I’m going to show you another technique.
How to Spatchcock (Butterfly) a Turkey
One of my favorite ways of preparing a roasted chicken is to butterfly it. I’m almost always in a hurry during the week and I’m almost always short on time to get dinner on the table! A spatchcocked chicken takes half the time to roast and you end up with juicy chicken and plenty of crispy skin. So why not do the same with the holiday bird and make a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving?
I first shared this technique and recipe in 2011. But it really needs to brought back to the front page. It’s THAT good. Seriously. The beauty of butterflying your turkey for roasting is that you end up with PLENTY of crispy skin and you cut the roasting time by more than a half.
A spatchcocked turkey is a butterflied turkey. What you need to do is remove the spine. Sounds complicated, but it really is not. You can use a very sharp and strong knife or poultry shears to cut along both sides of the spine. You also need muscle. I’m a wimp and I had to get my husband’s help with this step.
Don’t toss that spine in the trash! Add it, with the neck and gizzards, to a small pot with water, onions and herbs to make a base for your turkey gravy.
Once the spine is removed, flip the bird over cut side down. Using your full body, like performing CPR, press down hard on between the two breasts of the turkey. You want to hear a crack. This means that you have split the breast bone of your turkey.
Again, let all your frustrations out on the bird while you do it!If you have troubles cracking the breast bone, use your knife to cut down the breast bone and try cracking it again. This is the hardest part of making a spatchcocked turkey. And it’s pretty low tech. Your turkey is butterflied and ready to prepare for roasting!
How to Cook a Spatchcock Turkey
Just as you season the cavity of a traditionally roasted turkey, you want to season both sides of your spatchcocked turkey. For this recipe, I created a lovely orange sage butter. I love my fresh sage bush I have growing in my yard and use as much of it as I can in my cooking.
Melt butter and add orange zest, sage, salt and pepper. Then I brush all over both sides of the spatchcocked turkey. To really get the flavor into the turkey, you want to add this orange butter underneath the skin as well.
To do this, you have to loosen the skin from the meat of the turkey first. This takes some simple massaging as you work your fingers under the skin, separating from the flesh. Much easier than cracking the turkey breastbone. Once the skin is loosened, brush the remaining butter underneath the loosened turkey skin.
Again, the beauty of a spatchcocked turkey is the crispy skin over the entire turkey and how quickly your turkey will cook versus the conventional method. The turkey pictured about was about 13-pounds. It would typically take approximately 3 1/2 hours to cook the traditional way, unstuffed.
But, when butterflied, it cut the cooking time in half, only requiring 1 1/2 hours in the oven. No getting up at the crack of dawn to enjoy a juicy Thanksgiving lunch!
Can you Stuff a Spatchcocked Turkey?
Well, the answer to this question should be obvious, but it still comes up. No, once the turkey is butterflied, you can not stuff a spatchcocked turkey. But, I personally like my stuffing on the side. Okay, it is now called dressing if it is on the side, but you get what I mean!
Can you Grill a Spatchcocked Turkey?
If you have ever grilled a butterflied chicken, then you know how easy it is. If you have a large enough grill, you can totally grill a spatchcocked turkey. You can also smoke a spatchcocked turkey, too!
I positively love Thanksgiving. It’s all about family and friends and being surrounded by the people you love… just being thankful for everything we have. There’s no presents that need to bought or candy to be handed out.
But, there is the food. Man, I love the food: the saffron mashed potatoes, the dreamy moist stuffing, the pomegranate cranberry sauce, the baked squash… YUMMO! Don’t get me started on dessert! Chocolate pumpkin pie, cranberry upside down cake… it’s time to unbutton the pants!
And with this gorgeous, crispy orange and sage spatchcocked turkey? Your guests will be drooling with you. Bring on the feast!
- 13 lb whole turkey, completely thawed
- 3 cup water
- 1/2 onion, halved
- 3 sage leaves
- 8 TBS butter, unsalted
- Grated zest from 1 large orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 3 TBS chopped fresh sage
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 TBS all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Remove gizzards and neck and reserve and place in a small saucepan.
- Place the turkey, breast side down, on a large cutting board.
- Using a large sharp knife or poultry shears, cut along each side of the backbone.
- Pull the turkey open slightly to cut the backbone out completely. Place the backbone in the pot with the neck and gizzards and reserve.
- Flip your turkey over, cut side down. Using your hands, press down firmly to break the breastbone and flatten the bird.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat combine 6 TBS butter, orange zest, 3 TBS chopped sage, salt and pepper. Heat until butter is melted
- Brush melted butter mixture on both sides of the turkey,
- Slide your fingers under the skin of the turkey to loosen it from the meat. Brush the remaining butter underneath the skin of the turkey breast.
- Place turkey in a large roasting pan, skin side up.
- Roast turkey for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone registers 170º-175ºF. If the turkey starts to burn, loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- While the turkey is roasting, cover the neck bone, gizzards and spine with water. Add onion and 3 sage leaves.
- Simmer until broth is reduced to 2 cups, skimming occasionally, for about 1 hour.
- Strain turkey broth, and reserve.
- When turkey is done, remove from oven and let it rest while you make the gravy.
- Melt 2 TBS butter in a skillet heat over medium-high heat. Stir in flour.
- After flour is browned, whisk in reserved turkey broth and strained drippings from the roasted turkey
- Whisk until fully incorporated and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until gravy has thickened.
- Serve turkey with gravy and the rest of your favorite Thanksgiving sides.
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Serving Size:1 plate
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 284 Total Fat: 20.6g Saturated Fat: 9.8g Cholesterol: 96mg Sodium: 899mg Carbohydrates: 2.7g Fiber: 0.5g Sugar: 0.3g Protein: 21.5g