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What are cooking times for a spacthcocked turkey?

I have a 30 pound turkey (!) to cook for Thanksgiving and I'm planning on spatchcocking it to get it to cook a faster and more evenly. My problem is I can't find any guidelines for how long to cook a spatchcocked bird, only whole birds. And while I can find recipes for roasting flat birds, they all seem to be for birds half that size. I suspect that the cooking time is less than double what it would be for a 15 pounder, but I really don't know. Anyone?

asked by vrunka over 5 years ago
5 answers 3392 views
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Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Creative Director of Food52

added over 5 years ago

You're right, it is tough to find guidelines for a bird that big! Cook's Illustrated talks about having to apply a lot or force (and hacking) to get the backbone out of a bird half that size, so be prepared with a cleaver. If nobody else here can weigh in with personal experience, I'd say you should just be prepared to monitor it closely. If it's browning too quickly, cover it with foil. If it's not browning enough, turn up the heat. And monitor the internal temperature of the breast and thigh closely. Have extra hors d'oeuvres on hand and hopefully your sides will be the kind that can hold if it takes longer than you expect!

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added over 5 years ago

Thanks for the advice, Kristen. I will be prepared to break out the heavy weaponry!

As for the cooking time, I'm more concerned about the bird being done too soon and then having to let it sit out for hours before people show up. But in any case I will be prepared with temperature probes all over the place!

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AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 5 years ago

Okay, I just spoke on the phone with none other than (!) Melissa Clark, who was working the Gilt Turkey phone hotline. I posed your question (because I know that at some point, I'll be roasting a large spatchcocked bird as I'm totally hooked on the method, for any and all poultry) and this is what she advises: Put the bird in at 450 degrees for 1/2 hour. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Cook for 10 - 12 minutes per pound total, covering the breast after 1.5 hours. Use heavy aluminum foil to cover it. Check internal temperature as you would any turkey for doneness. ;o)

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added over 5 years ago

Wow, thank you so much! I really appreciate it. I'll follow this method and report back!

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added over 5 years ago

So I cooked my 30 pounder for the big day following these instructions. The bird wound up cooking much faster than the time given -- if it was 10-12 minutes per pound, that would have been 5-6 hours, but the bird was actually done at about 3.5 hours. I had set it out on the counter for one hour before putting it in the oven (with ice packs on the breasts, per Harold McGee). so perhaps the fact that most of the bird was at room temperature accounts for some of the time difference.

It was a beautiful, succulent bird and cooked quite evenly. Everyone raved about it and it was nice that such a big bird cooked so (relatively) quickly. I also roasted a pan of stuffing under the bird during its whole cooking time which made for a pretty intensely flavorful stuffing that everyone loved.

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