Skip to main content

Bored with the same old roast turkey at Thanksgiving? Try it butterflied. It not only produces a juicier bird, but it means less time in the kitchen. Flattening, or spatchcocking, your turkey by cutting out its backbone allows it to cook more quickly. It also gives you the option of doing it in the oven or on the barbecue, leaving your oven free for other dishes. We did it both ways and loved the crisp skin from the barbecue, but found the oven cooked the turkey more accurately. Using the smoked paprika gives a slightly smoky taste to the oven version, which you can surround with all of the trimmings for a perfect, if unconventional, Thanksgiving menu.

Have the butcher remove the backbone of the turkey and crack the breast bone so the bird will lie flat.

We don't recommend a frozen turkey, but if you've bought one, and you have to do this yourself, cut along both sides of the backbone with kitchen shears, turn the turkey over and, with a sharp knife, whack the breast bone so it cracks.

Story continues below advertisement

I do not recommend flattening a turkey that weighs more than 14 pounds. Seasoned butter under the skin adds flavour.


One 12-pound turkey

Seasoned butter

6 ounces butter, softened

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

3 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper


3 tablespoons turkey drippings (or butter if using barbecue)

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Combine the butter with paprika, garlic, tarragon, chives, parsley, salt and pepper and mix together. Using a teaspoon or your fingers, make a space between the skin and meat of the turkey and spread seasoned butter underneath the skin and over the legs.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place turkey on a large, rimmed baking sheet, folding the legs toward each other to protect the breast from overcooking. Turn wing tips under. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, rub with a little extra butter and bake for between 1 hour 30 minutes and 1 hour 50 minutes, basting occasionally, until an oven thermometer reads 165F at the thickest part of the turkey (where the leg meets the body). Remove turkey from oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Drain turkey drippings into a skillet, discarding as much fat as possible. Add flour and whisk until incorporated. Pour in stock and soy sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add redcurrant jelly and season with salt and pepper.

Remove legs and split into drumsticks and thighs. Cut breast lengthwise and carve into pieces. Lay all meat on a platter and serve with sauce.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨