Spatchcocked Turkey and Gravy

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 110 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

The cooks at Haven’s Kitchen in New York share their secret for a fast and easy way to roast a turkey: spatchcock it first. This technique involves removing the backbone and then flattening the bird, which speeds roasting and ensures even cooking. Your turkey will emerge with nicely crisped skin and juicy meat. It does take some oomph to crack the bird open. The chefs say the process “mimics a ‘resuscitating chest compression’ mixed with the ‘rib-cracking noise of an overzealous Heimlich maneuver.’”

Ingredients:

For the spice rub:

  • 3 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1 turkey, 12 to 14 lb. (6 to 7 kg)
  • 2 carrots, cut into large dice
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into large dice
  • 1 white onion, cut into large dice
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cut into large dice
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) turkey or chicken stock or water
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

Directions:

To make the spice rub, in a small bowl, stir together the salt, thyme, rosemary, pepper, pimentón, sage and garlic powder. Set aside.

Place the turkey, breast side down, on a cutting board with the opening to the larger cavity facing toward you. Using poultry or kitchen shears, start at the larger cavity end and cut along either side of the backbone. It’s best to do one side all the way, then open the bird up slightly and go back and remove the backbone entirely by cutting along the other side. The second side is sometimes a bit trickier; hold the backbone with one hand while cutting. Set the backbone and neck aside.

Trim off any excess fat around the neck and leg joints. Remove the wishbone by running a paring knife along either side of the bone and pulling it out.

Turn the bird over so that the open cavity is now on the cutting board, with the legs pointing away from each other. Place one hand on the other, with your elbows locked, and push down on the breastbone until you hear a cracking noise and the turkey lies flatter.  

Season the turkey all over with the spice rub and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C).

Arrange the carrots, celery, onion, fennel and garlic in an even layer in a large roasting pan, and nestle in the backbone and neck. Set a roasting rack on top. Place the turkey, breast side up, on the rack and roast, rotating the pan 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F (74°C) and into the thigh registers 175°F (80°C), about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Transfer the roasting rack with the turkey to a baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the gravy: Transfer the backbone, neck, vegetables and turkey drippings to a medium pot. Add the stock, thyme and bay leaf. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming occasionally to remove the fat, for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the stock mixture, discarding the solids. Pour into a small saucepan, place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

In a small bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the butter and flour. Whisk into the hot stock until well combined. Simmer until the gravy is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. If you prefer a thicker gravy, add more butter and flour mixture 1 tsp. at a time.

To carve the turkey, remove the legs and then carve the whole breast off the bird. Slice the breast on a diagonal against the grain. Transfer to a platter and serve the gravy alongside. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from a recipe by Haven’s Kitchen, New York City

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