The origin of “spatchcock” seems to be under debate. The folks at Oxford think it’s Irish, and a combination of “dispatch” (as in “quick”) and “cock,” – Dispatch the Cock! But the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary dismisses that theory and ties the word to “spitchcock,” a dish made with fried eels. [ed. note: that’s a rather odd turn of events, and I’m not quite sure what eels have to do with anything.]I’ve been intrigued ever since Martha floated the idea of spatchcocking your Thanksgiving bird and we gave one a test drive this Saturday. The process started on Wednesday when I actually performed the manual labor of spatchcocking. Full disclosure: it’s not as easy as they (i.e. Martha Stewart) makes it sound. It’s actually really hard and was accompanied by a lot of cursing and moments when I really didn’t think I was going to finish (thus ending up with a half-cocked turkey). But I muscled through, flipped it over, had husband break the breastbone (We think anyway. Again, not as easy as it sounds and it never really made a discernible “popping” sound like you would expect). But, it was flat and that’s all we were going for. I dry-brined it for a few days, rinsed it off and let it air dry in the refrigerator overnight. I made a paste of herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil and cooked in a 450 degree oven for about 80 minutes. Turned out great! Would I do it again? Yes, for quite a few reasons with one caveat:
- It makes it really easy to move it around and store because it’s flat on a sheet pan.
- You can use the backbone, giblets and wings* to make a great turkey stock for gravy while the turkey is dry-brining (* I also removed the wings after cutting out the backbone).
- It’s really easy to carve once it comes out of the oven and rests.
- It produces a lot of great crispy skin.
- It’s fast.
- And it’s easier IF (this is where the caveat comes in) you either (a) have really, freakishly strong hands or (b) have a GREAT pair of kitchen shears. Mine are not great, as I found out.
Photo Martha Stewart Living