How to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey in Half the Time

Carved Turkey
Photo: LauriPatterson/Getty Images

While it's one of our favorite holidays, Thanksgiving can be pretty stressful, and even more so if you're the one doing all the cooking. From the potatoes to the stuffing to the pies, everything has to be perfectly timed out in order to be ready at once, and who can forget the most important dish of all: the turkey. Cooking a turkey is no simple feat, and of all the things on the table, it can be argued that it's the most important.

InStyle recently got the chance to chat with celebrity chef and TV show host Tyler Florence at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, and naturally, with the holidays just around the corner, we wanted to rack the Food Network star's brain for all things holiday cooking. The first order of business was Thanksgiving, and specifically the turkey. When we asked what his absolute favorite dish to make for his family and friends is, he said that he loves making a spatchcocked turkey.

What is that, you ask? Well, he explained it all to us, and even claims it's the tastiest turkey you'll ever eat. Read on to see what he had to say.

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"If you take the backbone out with a pair of kitchen shears," he started, and that's where we stopped him. That sounds complicated, and frankly, kind of terrifying. But, he assured us, "it's not as scary as it sounds, and if you get a turkey from the grocery store and you want to ask the guy behind the counter to do it for you, no big deal."

But if you think it's a task you can take on yourself, here's how to do it. "Use a pair of sharp kitchen shears, and you take the turkey and you put it breast side down, and you take two fingers and feel where the spine is in the back. Take the shears and it’s about four cuts on each side. Once you feel how easy it is to cut through that, it’s not scary in the slightest."

We'll take your word for it, Tyler.

Depending on the size of your bird, cooking times can vary, and if you're cooking for a big crowd, your turkey is going to be in the oven for the better part of the day. This is precisely why Florence suggests spatchcocking it. "If you take that backbone—which weighs about three pounds—if you take that out, you can cut the cook time of the turkey from about three and a half or four hours down to an hour and a half."

We are all for that. Consider Thanksgiving handled.

If the reduced cook time hasn't won you over, Florence adds, "it’s the most succulent, fantastic turkey you’ve ever tasted in your entire life." Because you're significantly reducing the cook time, the end result will be much more flavorful and—as much as we hate this word—moist. He suggests cooking it up with just oil, salt, and pepper.

Thanks for all the tips, Tyler!

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