There are many (many!) Thanksgiving turkey recipes out there. But, this roast spatchcock turkey recipe with its aniseed and orange dry brine is, as former BA Test Kitchen director Carla Lalli Music put it, “for people who want a turkey that actually tastes good, and not a turkey that just looks good.” (Watch her make this recipe.)
Butterflying or spatchcocking a whole turkey does a lot of great things. By creating more surface area (i.e. exposing more of the bird to heat), it helps cook the dark and white meat evenly, so everything stays juicy. It cuts the overall cooking time in half. And last, but certainly not least, it results in even more golden brown, crispy skin. Most butchers will remove the backbone of the bird for you if you ask, but this video shows you how to spatchcock a 12–14 pound turkey step by step if you want to DIY (make two if you have a big party). If you’re using a frozen bird, be sure to let it thaw first, and if you don’t have sharp kitchen shears or poultry shears, now is the time to buy some.
Though there’s no need to wake up early for this recipe—total cooking time is just an hour and a half—you will need to be on hand as the turkey cooks to baste it often. To test for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into both the thickest part of the thigh and the breast meat and look for an internal temperature of 165°F. Let the cooked turkey rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes before carving, so the juices stay put.
That’s it. Now you have the whole rest of the day to finish your Thanksgiving side dishes, set the table, or simply pour yourself a drink and admire perfection.