Modernize the Classics: A Behind-the-Scenes look at Upgrading Family Favorites


Looking for a new twist to a family favorite this Thanksgiving? If you’re feeling adventurous and are an experienced cook, try spatchcocking and grilling the turkey!

Let’s answer a big question: What is spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking, also called butterflying, is simply cutting the turkey so that it lays flat when roasting in the oven or cooking on the grill. The basic method of preparation involves removing the backbone with a pair of poultry shears or a very sharp knife, then pressing down on the breast to flatten it. To remove the backbone, place the turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Starting at the tail end, cut along both sides of the backbone all the way up to the neck. Remove the backbone and open up the turkey, then turn the turkey breast side up. Press down hard on the center of the breastbone until you hear a crack. Now the turkey can lay flat for cooking.

Note: If you are not comfortable with removing the backbone, your butcher can remove it for you.

diagram 1

(Above) To remove the backbone, place the turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Starting at the tail end, use poultry shears or a very sharp knife to cut along both sides of the backbone all the way up to the neck.

diagram 2

(Above) Press down hard on the center of the breastbone to flatten the turkey.

Grilling a Spatchcock Turkey
Turkey can be prepared either on an outdoor charcoal or gas grill.

Prepare the grill
Charcoal grill: Can give you an amazing flavor when you use the right technique

  • Remove cooking grate and open all vents.
  • Position drip pan in center of charcoal grate and place 25 to 30 briquettes along each side (lengthwise) of drip pan. Do not use lighter fluid to start the charcoal.
  • Burn briquettes until covered with gray ash, about 30 minutes. Place cooking grate in grill over coals.

Gas grill: An easy way to get the delicious grilled taste you crave

  • Before turning on grill, lift grate and place drip pan directly on flavorizer bars, ceramic briquettes or lava rocks. Replace grate.
  • Prepare grill for indirect heat cooking according to owner’s guide. Preheat burners on high for 10 to 15 minutes with lid closed.
  • Turn down the temperature to approximately 350⁰F.

Prepare the Turkey

  • Turn wings back to hold neck skin. Brush or spray the entire turkey with cooking or vegetable oil.
  • If cooking with charcoal, season both sides of the turkey with salt and pepper (being very careful—the turkey is partially boneless and will flop around). Do not tear the skin.
  • Place the turkey, breast up, on cooking grate over drip pan. Cover grill, leaving vents open if using charcoal or close lid and minimizing peeking if using gas grill.
  • If cooking with charcoal, add 6 to 8 briquettes to each side every 45 to 60 minutes or so. Keep the temperature between 325 and 340⁰F.
  • If using a gas grill, it may be necessary to turn the turkey over halfway through grilling to ensure even cooking. Turn down the burner temperature under the drip pan if the turkey is browning too quickly.
  • Using a meat thermometer, cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 180⁰F in thigh and 165⁰F in breast.
  • A 12-pound turkey will take 1½ to 2 hours to grill. When done, remove the turkey and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

butterfly bird











Carving the Turkey

  • Cut the legs from the body at the point where the thigh is attached to the breast.
  • Separate the drumstick from the thigh, then carefully remove the thighbone. Be sure to keep the thigh meat intact as much as possible. Keep the skin side up on the thigh meet, slicing the thigh meat into ¼ inch slices. Repeat for the second leg.
  • Cut the breast in half, carefully removing the rib bones from the breast. Firmly hold the skin side up and slice the breast meat into ¼- to ½-inch slices. Repeat for the second breast.
  • Arrange on a warm platter and serve with your favorite side dish. You can find plenty of side dish recipes on the Butterball Cookbook Plus™ App!



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