Roasted Spatchcocked Turkey

Roasted Spatchcocked Turkey (Serves 15-18)

Glenda and Lou at The Coffee Pot in Alpharetta, Georgia roasted a turkey breast on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving that was so good, I went directly from eating theirs to buying myself a turkey so I could have it again on Thursday. They shared with me three things they did to make their turkey taste so good. They splashed a little apple cider vinegar on before cooking, spiced the turkey with jerk seasoning, and covered it with mayonnaise to keep the turkey moist while roasting. Mine turned out less spicy than theirs, but was good enough that I won’t wait until next Thanksgiving to roast another turkey!

I heard Alton Brown discuss spatchcocking a turkey to reduce its cooking time, so decided to experiment on my Thanksgiving bird. Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone and breaking the breast bone to flatten the turkey so it displays more surface area (and thus cooks faster). I managed to hack out the backbone with my good kitchen shears, but am seriously considering using the bypass loppers I use to prune small trees next time I want to cut out a turkey backbone. I expected my spatchcocking experiment to reduce the roasting time from 4 hours to 3 hours, but my 14 pound turkey reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees after a total of just 2 hours in the oven, so I am now a big fan of spatchcocking.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 120 minutes


1 whole turkey (mine was 14 pounds)
2 sweet yellow onions
1 large butternut squash
2 cans Artichoke Hearts
2-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise (recipe for making it yourself below)
Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
Ground black pepper – 1 teaspoon
Yellow curry – 2 tablespoons
Salt – 2 teaspoons

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel butternut squash and onions and chop into bite-size pieces. Arrange the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan. Add artichoke hearts and the liquid from the cans to the roasting pan. Season vegetables with a dusting of salt and garlic powder. Add enough water to the pan to submerge the vegetables about 1/2 inch deep. Unwrap turkey and place breast side down in the sink. Cut out the backbone and then turn the turkey breast side up, spread the bird wide, and press down firmly on the breast bone until it cracks and the turkey lays flat. Your bird is now spatchcocked. Rinse the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Make a dry rub by mixing salt, curry powder, ground pepper, garlic powder, and red chili powder in a small bowl and then massage the dry rub over the top and bottom of the turkey. Spread mayonnaise over the top and bottom of the dry rubbed turkey to glue the spices to the turkey and to keep the turkey moist while roasting. Arrange the turkey directly on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. I had to fold the legs oddly to fit my turkey in the pan and you might too. Slide the pan into the hot oven and let roast for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. After the first hour, I turned my oven up to 400 degrees. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, pull it from the oven. Let the turkey rest about 20 minutes to redistribute its juices. Carve the turkey and use a slotted spoon to transfer vegetables to plates for serving.

Homemade Mayo

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups olive oil (light, not extra virgin)


Place the egg, mustard powder, salt, apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor and whirl until well mixed – 20 to 30 seconds. You can mix by hand in a bowl with a whisk like Julia Childs did in the old days, but that is a lot of work. Now here comes the important part: Drizzle in the last cup of olive oil very, very slowly while you keep running the food processor – as in, take 2-3 minutes to drizzle in one cup of oil. Don’t get in a hurry and dump a lot of oil in at once or the mixture can collapse and stop looking like mayonnaise. IF your mayo collapses, all is not lost. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours and then stir it vigorously. Such “failed” mayo doesn’t look as pretty, but it still tastes good and works fine. Once you are done, transfer your mayo to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator until needed. Homemade mayo should be good until the expiration date of the egg it was made with.

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2 Responses to “Roasted Spatchcocked Turkey”

  1. Michelle says:

    It so happens, I just moved to Alpharetta!
    Is the Coffee Pot still up and running?

    • Tom Denham says:

      Sadly, the Coffee Pot gave way to a bar that remodeled the space and then never opened. The space has been unused for months. My next favorite coffee place is down the road in Roswell – Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House.

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