Spatchcocking a bird (the process of splitting a whole bird in half, removing its backbone and roasting it flat, skin-side up) has its benefits—especially when you're talking about poultry as big as a Thanksgiving turkey.
When you lay the entire bird flat, you're working with a larger, more uniform surface area, allowing for more even cooking when it goes into the oven. It also exposes all of the skin to the heat (hence, more browning), so you'll get the super-crisp skin you're looking for. The method cuts the turkey's roasting time almost in half.
We're making a spatchcocked bird this year (see the recipe), and you should, too. But if you can't find a butcher to do it for you, master the technique by following these simple steps:
1. Flip your bird breast-side down. Using a sharp knife, score both sides of the backbone to use as a guideline (see illustration above).
2. Using utility shears, cut the backbone on both sides beginning at the tail end. (You can reserve the backbone for turkey stock or gravy if you'd like.)
3. Using the heels of your hands, firmly press down on the keel bone (a.k.a. breastbone) to flatten the bird.
All right, turkey, you're ready to roast.
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