Bandaza: Spatchcocking

Hey there, folks! Bandaza‘s coming, and I’ve started my preparations in earnest already. I usually take a week off to make sure the house is in order and I’ve got the cooking done. This year, however, I’m trying something new: documentary evidence, as we go, of the process! Most of what I’ve been photographing, I’ve been posting over on my Mastodon (Awoo) account, since it’s a little more immediate. This, however, I’m hosting locally because it’s way too big for Mastodon: video!

If you’ve ever tried to cook a turkey, you know it’s not a lot of fun. It’s got a huge air cavity in the middle, and that’s got to get hot to cook the inside of the turkey, but that takes a lot of extra time. The breast meat is done at 75C and the thighs and legs around 80C, and that gap is pretty critical. The typical choices when cooking a whole bird are “breast meat done, thighs and legs raw” and “thighs and legs done, breast meat dry.” Since dry is unpleasant but safe and raw is unsafe, most people end up eating dry turkey around this time of year. Sure, gravy can smother a multitude of sins, but it’s a shame to ruin such flavorful meat. You can fill the hole with stuffing to eliminate the air cavity, but that doesn’t solve the need for different temperatures, and it swaps one set of problems for another. Namely, anything you put in the hole also has to hit 75C to be safe to eat, otherwise it’s swimming in turkey juice.

An easier solution is to engage some topological transformations and convert the almost-torus to a semi-plane. That is, to butterfly — a.k.a. spatchcock — the bird, lay it out flat for cooking.

Yes, yes, I’m twelve too.

This has a number of advantages. First off, since there’s no air cavity, you don’t have to heat the air, so it cooks faster. You can also cook it hotter, since you don’t have to worry about the massive heat sink lurking in the center of the bird. Also, by rearranging Mother Nature, you can position the legs and thighs higher up than the breasts, which means you can put them closer to your heating elements, so you can get more heat where you want it during the cooking. This is how I consistently crank out multiple turkeys every year. It just takes a little extra work.

How much work? Well, see for yourself (MP4)! Apologies for potato; Keet took the video on her phone, and I’ve done no conversion, compression, or cleanup on it. I have a lot of other stuff to get done this week.

The time has come, my little friends
To talk of food and things