The Word of the Day is Spatchcock: Thanksgiving 2012

“I’m going to spatchcock the turkey.” “Excuse me?”

“If I spatchcock the turkey–WHY ARE YOU BLUSHING?”

“So, I’ve decided to spatchcock the turkey.” “Is that some sort of fandom thing about Benedict Cumberbatch?”


Despite its unfortunate name, spatchcocking is simply a way of butterflying a turkey so it will cook faster; it does not, in fact, refer to varsity-level S&M practices. (For that, please refer to Dan Savage’s column.)

(If reading about disassembling a deceased avian upsets you, read no further!)


Look, my turkey is canting!

This method allows one to increase the cooking temperature and decrease the amount of time spend cooking the bird by flattening it out. How so? The rib cage is large and unwieldy, so you cut out the spine with kitchen shears, break the sternum to help flatten it out, then twist the thighs around so that you have a splayed, knock-kneed bird.

Is cutting through bone with scissors gross? Yes. Did my friend perform CPR on a turkey carcass in order to breast the breastbone? Yes. Do we have irreverent pictures of my holding up the bird like a newborn Simba in The Lion King? Also yes. (Am I going to hell? Probably.)

Did I cook a 8-10 pound turkey in 2 hours, including resting time?

Thanks to the magic of spatchcocking, yes.

How the turkey fits in the moven: barely, but good enough!

You can read all about how to dress the turkey step by step on Serious Eats, but for the Japan crowd, here are some tips:

The turkey will spread out, which is good since movens lack height, but you need to account for the increase in width. Our turkey was about 29x20x15 cm before I spatchcocked it.

We lined our square moven plate with foil (best to double it up); set the grill from the gas range’s broiler/fish grill on top of that; then put the turkey on top of that. The moven plate went on the bottom of the moven instead of up on one of the racks. If you’re using an full-sized oven (like in the US), you could use a cookie sheet with a lip or roasting pan (something to hold the juices in) and a wire rack set inside it. You can make gravy from the drippings. We didn’t this time.

I mixed 40 grams of butter with chopped fresh thyme and rosemary and, after rubbing the mix on the skin, inserted some of the softened but not melted under the skin. You can use whatever seasoning or preparation method you like. Spatchcocking means you don’t need to baste or worry about the meat drying out. If the juices begin to burn, you can add some potatoes and carrots underneath to add some moisture to the oven.

Take off the breast and put the thighs back in.
Take off the breast and put the thighs back in.

I cooked the turkey at 210° C for about 100 minutes. (230° C/450° F is the recommended temperature, but my moven goes from 210° straight to 250°.)  When the temperature inside the breast reached 80° C (73° C/165° F is recommended), turned off the heat and let it rest for 30 minutes. The turkey timer never popped up, so don’t count on that. (It already popped out a bit during our CPR session, but you ought to use a thermometer anyhow.) We then asked one of our friends who actually has meat-carving skills to do the honors. She carved that turkey like a champ, and we piled it on a plate for our omnivore guests to have at it.



The rest of the meal was excellent, as always. I’m lucky to have so many friends who are amazing cooks. We had a green-bean-mushroom casserole/stuffing as the vegetarian main, pineapple stuffing, kabocha bread, mashed potatoes, kabocha no nimono, cornbread, mulled wine (a lot), and pie (also a lot): 1 pumpkin, 2 kabocha (one regular, one with yuzu), chocolate, and 2 apple.

Mulled wine, poured back into the bottles for easy decanting.
Grapes and cheese for appetizers.

Also exciting: Sarah of Daily Nibbles came to visit! I found her blog through WordPress’s Freshly Pressed about a year ago and started following not just because of the gorgeous photography and the food, but because I grew up in Ohio and spent some time in Vermont, too. Sarah later became a JET and got placed in Toyama prefecture–small world–and we ran around Kanazawa on Saturday seeing the sight, eating at some of my favorite restaurants, and swapping Japan and food stories. Her camera and photography skills are leagues beyond mine (and I was busy hosting and forgot to take more photos…. bad blogger), so when she posts the full set of photos, I’ll link you all there. にほんへようこそ!

Deviled eggs with Kanazawa gold leaf sprinkled on top. Fancy.
Kabocha bread
Turkey, potatoes, vegetarian stuffing casserole, cornbread
Another shot of the casserole and stuffing, the end of the bread.
My poor squash that got a bit flattened on the train; vegetarian stuffing, green bean casseroles, cranberry sauce, root vegetable puree, and pies.
My poor squash that got a bit flattened on the train; vegetarian stuffing, green bean casseroles, cranberry sauce, root vegetable puree, and pies.

Quite the feast.

Thanks to everyone who came out!

Spatchcock spatchcock spatchcock.


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