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Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey finishSometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

I tryout various new methods a few days before the big day, just to spice things up and make sure there are leftovers in my frig. This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free. My brother is going to prep one of his two turkeys similarly, but smoke it instead.

I put it together today so I could get the recipe up in time for your holiday.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara



Friday Recipe Exchange: Breakfast Pizzas

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I wanted to tackle breakfast because with lots of people visiting over the holidays, it can be fun to do something special for breakfast. I had a breakfast pizza recipe tucked away for a while and I was on the hunt for the perfect crust. I finally stumbled upon some terrific flat bread, something I have been looking for since moving to Colorado. I was spoiled in Boston and LA, where every store had a locally made brand stocked. So with a nice flat bread I was ready to tackle tonight’s featured recipe.

But let’s begin with something sweet that was great fun to get the kids involved with, French Toast Rollups, recipe here.

I like this Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake because, well, pecans and streusel, but also because I can make it and leave it out for everyone to enjoy at their leisure with coffee.

I also have a Blueberry Coffee Cake, along with a full dinner menu and recipes here (because coffee cake, not just for breakfast).

Finally, for Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes, click here.

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What’s on your plate for the weekend? If you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, what’s on your menu?

For tonight’s featured recipe, I snagged some of JeffreyW’s photos (top and middle of the post) to illustrate the many forms these pizzas can take. I made single pizzas, topped with an egg and lots of cheese. The ideas are endless. But below is a recipe for the basics.

Breakfast pizza

Breakfast Pizzas

Crust: flat bread, naan, pita bread or a pizza dough

Toppings: I used olive oil, breakfast sausage, mozzarella, spinach, garlic and an egg for each individual pizza.

To assemble: on a baking sheet arrange the crusts, brush lightly with oil, then spread roasted garlic, add crumbled (uncooked) breakfast sausage and shredded cheese, leaving a space in the center for the egg. I used the sausage and cheese to create a well for the egg.

At this point you have two choices, you can leave it on the baking sheet or move it to the oven rack. Because I was using flat bread and it was stable, I moved it to the oven rack and then added the egg into the well (I cracked the egg into a bowl and then transferred to the pizza, it seemed a smarter way to manage it all). You can also scramble the egg and pour slowly over the ingredients.

Bake at 450 degrees until the egg is cooked. I lost track of time and let the egg cook too long, I would have preferred a soft yolk. Remove, top with chopped spinach and serve immediately.

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week because I’m assuming we will all be in a food coma. Have a great weekend and an excellent holiday. – TaMara

And for those who missed it, dinner menu this week is Spicy Potato Soup and Mocha Cake, menu, recipes and shopping list here. Great for a non-turkey meal to serve to company.



Emeril’s Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta and Caramelize Onions

Photo courtesy of Good Morning America/ABCNews

Photo courtesy of Good Morning America/ABCNews

With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to highlight some different sides besides the traditional. This one really fit the bill.

From Emeril Lagasse 

Emeril Lagasse’s phrase, “kick it up a notch” became famous for a reason—the New Orleans-raised chef raises flavors to the next level. This year, take your Thanksgiving to Emeril’s star status with his recipe for Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Pancetta.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

    Robin Roberts and Emeril Lagasse

    Robin Roberts and Emeril Lagasse

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta and cook until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and set aside. Add the onions, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the pan and cook, stirring until the onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.

In a large 14-inch sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and when hot, add the Brussels sprouts and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook until the sprouts are golden brown on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the onions and pancetta to the Brussels sprouts, toss well, and return to the oven for 5 minutes longer.

Serve immediately.

Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 1-30 min

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