This is my new favorite word.
Oddly enough, I’d never come across it until today, considering that I’ve been cooking for so long. (I love this about life, though … I love learning new stuff every day.)
Spatchcocking is the process of removing the backbone from a turkey, chicken or other bird and flattening it out so that it cooks evenly and in far less time than roasting a whole bird. From Grace Yang in Serious Eats:
The breast meat turns out very tender, the drumsticks are juicy and flavorful, and the entire thing is done in half the time.
While the typical turkey-roasting (for a 10- to 12-pound bird) can last about three hours, this shaves off at least half of that. Last weekend, I tested this approach and the turkey came out beautifully. [...]
The first step to a perfect spatchcocked turkey is brining. Letting the bird sit in a salt-and-herb mixture overnight allows the wonderful flavors to distribute evenly. [...]
Everyone at our party loved the spatchcocked turkey. The meat was tender and flavorful, and the entire thing was done in half the time a traditional roasting method takes.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the key concept here is that it takes half the time. This is crucial when you’ve got a dozen things going at once on Thanksgiving or Christmas. The bird also lies flatter in the oven, leaving more room for you to stick side dishes in while the turkey’s cooking.
I’m going to try this this year. We’re guests at Wes’ sister’s house for Thanksgiving, but we’re hosting Christmas Day dinner at our place this year, The carol I’ll be singing in the kitchen will be “We Wish You A Juicy Spatchcock.”
The San Francisco Chronicle also offers instructions on spatchcocking a chicken.