Mark Bittman’s Spatchcock Turkey

If you’re having your turkey spatchcocked in advance, move onto step 2 in the recipe.


18-12 pound turkey

10 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed, more to taste


1 branch fresh tarragon or thyme separated into sprigs, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme or tarragon

1/3c. extra virgin olive oil or butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put turkey on a stable cutting board breast side down and cut out backbone. Turn turkey over, and press on it to flatten. Put it, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Wings should partly cover breasts, and legs should protrude a bit.

Tuck garlic and tarragon under the bird and in the nooks of the wings and legs. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Roast for 20 minutes, undisturbed. Turkey should be browning. Remove from oven, baste with pan juices, and return to oven. Reduce heat to 400 degrees (if turkey browns too quickly, reduce temperature to 350 degrees).

Begin to check turkey’s temperature about 15 minutes later (10 minutes if bird is on the small side). It is done when thigh meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer. Check it in a couple of places.

Let turkey rest for a few minutes before carving, then serve with garlic cloves and pan juices.