19 November 2009

Thanksgiving tip: Cut up the turkey before roasting to cut cooking time

In: Mealtime

If you're not attached to the Norman Rockwell-eque image of a big, dressed turkey coming out on a platter, follow Amy's advice:

To cook the turkey faster, chop it up. Separate the wings, thighs, legs, breasts, etc. because a breast or thigh cooks much faster than a whole freaking turkey. This way, instead of getting up at 4am to start the turkey you can pop it in the oven an hour or two before you are gonna sit down to eat, depending on how big your bird is.

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Thanksgiving

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Spatchcocking a turkey.

No, seriously. That's the term for flattening out a bird to cook it faster. It's called "spatchcocking."


That is a fabulous idea! Why it never occurred to me to chop up a turkey before baking, I don't know. But I am definitely going to do it this year!

I mean roast, not bake. :D

That IS good idea, but might I suggest never getting up at 4 AM to start a bird? I know of no situation where this is necessary. Even a monstrous 30 lb. (do turkeys that big exist?) bird would not take anywhere near 8 hours to cook, assuming you want to eat as early as noon. My favorite hack is the digital thermometer with a cord that I put in the thigh of any bird I'm roasting (or any kind of meat for that matter). It has a timer which you can set for a desired internal temperature; when the timer goes off, the food is done. No thinking, checking, or clock watching of any kind required.

Hiya, I forgot to leave my name for Asha when I sent that hack in. It's jibssa, a.k.a. Amy. (You can change it in the hack if you want, Asha.)

In response to Kristen, I absolutely, 100% agree that no one should ever have to get up at 4 o'freakin-clock in the morning to start the turkey. In fact I told my dad as much the year that I was "volunteered" to help in the preparations. To no avail, so get up at 4am I did. And it was that very day that I resolved to never ever have to do that again. Thus my pre-cooking dismemberment of the festive fowl.

P.S. Spatchcocking! Hahaha.

I am going to use the word "Spatchcock" as many times as possible for the rest of my life.

Spatchcocking is definitely the way to go - the turkey cooks faster, more evenly, and if you set it over a roasting pan filled with stuffing (covered with the top of a broiler pan or wire rack to hold the turkey up), you get "inside stuffing" flavor without having to worry about anything undercooking.

(And if what I just wrote makes no sense, google "Cook's Illustrated high roast turkey" for pictures. It's behind a paywall, but there should be a 14-day free trial, which is plenty of time to print it out before T-day!)

Another really great way to cook a turkey is to flip it upside down and then cook as normal. The meat comes out SO moist (though you get an ugly bird).

I cook the turkey upside down, too (although the first year, I did not do it on purpose....you should have seen the look on my MIL's face). Sooo juicy. But, with about an hour left, I flip it back over so that the skin on top get nice and golden brown. This also help the juices redistribute throughout the bird.

turkey only takes a few hours - thers never a need to get up befor dawn unless you like to have thanksgiving dinner at 7am.

be careful of assumptions - we usually have thanksgiving as lunch and mama will cook the turkey first to free up the oven for the rest of the baked things to be warm at lunchtime. the turkey was served room temp. anyway, that could mean some early turkey start times without early turkey eat times...

can you cut up a turkey then brine it?

I agree to lessen the length of time in cooking a turkey you can chop it into pieces and don't forget to maintain the shape of its part like the wings,legs, and etc. in order to maintain its eye catching look,

Probably too late for this Thanksgiving, but I actually cooked my turkey yesterday! Let it cool, carved it, and put it on an oven-safe platter for reheating on Thursday. I didn't do this, but my mom suggested putting it in a disposable tin with the gravy so that when you reheat it, it stays really moist. I carved the whole thing, then picked it clean and made turkey soup in my crockpot today. I will never go back to cooking a bird on the actual day!

hi...... im excited just let my butcher cut up my turkey for first time n i know its gonna b great. vickie

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