What's remarkable about this turkey is how perfectly and uniformly golden all over it is. Butterflying (aka spatchcocking) the turkey (opening it up and flattening it out) puts the breasts, legs and wings on a level playing field so everything cooks evenly and more quickly than a whole bird. It's perfect for a time-crunched Thanksgiving host. It's also a breeze to carve—there's no struggle removing the legs or slicing the breast from a wobbly turkey. The recipe and photos below show you how easy it is to do, but if you have a trusted butcher, ask him (or her) to do it for you.
- One 12 to 13 pound turkey
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups turkey stock, preferably homemade or low sodium chicken broth, warmed
1. Butterfly the turkey: Place the turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Wedge some moist paper towels on either side of the breast to keep the bird from rocking.
2. Using a sharp knife, make an incision on either side of the backbone, about 2-inches apart. These lines will guide you when removing the backbone.
3. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut out the backbone, following the lines created with the knife. You will have to use both hands to cut through some of the bigger bones, so it's very important the bird is secure.
4. Once the backbone is removed, open the turkey like a book. Flip the turkey and using both hands, press the breast at the thickest part, using your body weight to crack the breast bone and flatten the bird.
5. Preheat the oven to 425° and place the rack nearest the bottom. Working from the neck end, slip your fingers under the breast skin, being careful not to tear it or separate it completely near the bottom. In a small bowl, mash the butter with the chives and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
6. Slip the herb butter under the skin. Season the turkey on both sides with salt and pepper and place it on a rack. Scatter the onion, carrot and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet and place the rack with turkey on top.
7. Place the pan in the oven and add 2 cups of water. Roast the turkey for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350° and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, breast and wing joint reads 165°, about 2 hours longer. Tent the turkey with foil during cooking it the skin browns too quickly and replenish the water to prevent the vegetables from scorching.
8. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board while you make the gravy. Carefully strain the liquid into a heatproof cup. Ladle 3 tablespoons of the fat into a saucepan and add the flour. Discard the remaining fat. Whisk the flour mixture over moderately high heat until sizzling about 4 minutes. Whisk in the stock and strained, defatted pan juices and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until thickened, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Carve the turkey and serve with hot gravy.
Grace Parisi is a New York City-based food writer, cookbook author and food stylist. Her book, Get Saucy, was nominated for a James Beard award. Her latest book, Quick Pickles comes out in Spring 2016. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.