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If you’re not into the idea of babysitting a turkey for several hours in the oven, let me convince you that you should spatchcock your turkey.
It’s not as inappropriate as it sounds. The term spatchcock, which is 17th-century shorthand for “dispatching the cock,” essentially refers to butterflying your bird. You simply split a turkey open and flatten it by cutting out the backbone and pushing down on the bird until it splays open on a baking sheet, resulting in an evenly cooked, crispy-skinned turkey in a fraction of the time that a traditional roast turkey takes. (Check out the full instructions in the video above.)
Flattening the turkey helps every part of the turkey cook at the same rate (breasts and thighs will finish at the same time!), it makes more surface area of the skin available for getting nice and crispy, and it speeds up the cooking time dramatically (most will only take about an hour!).
And best of all, it’s easy to do, unless you’re missing one crucial tool that most home cooks don’t have: Poultry shears.
If you have a pair of spring-loaded poultry shears, cutting out the turkey’s backbone is as easy as slicing through butter. If you’re thinking, “Oh, but I already have kitchen shears. Those’ll work!” you are extremely wrong. Traditional scissors will slip and slide, and you’ll be more likely to cut off one of your fingers than slice through the turkey. Sharp knives are also extremely dangerous in this scenario, so don’t try those, either.
Can you tell I learned this the hard way? Don’t make the same mistake I made ― order yourself a pair of poultry shears right now, while there’s enough time to arrive before the holiday. Here’s the Oxo pair I use, plus a couple other good alternatives.
Oxo Good Grips spring-loaded poultry shears
This is the version I use and trust. I especially love that the blades lock into a closed position when you’re done using them, preventing you from accidental jabs when you’re rummaging around your drawer.
Gerior poultry shears
These are also highly rated, and come at a slightly lower price point.