Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Prepare a Turkey in 45 Minutes?

I remember the moment when I first thought of my future bride: I really, really need to marry this woman.

Ok, well actually, there were numerous such moments over the time that we dated. But this one in particular stuck in my head.

My brother and sister-in-law were visiting me in the apartment I rented by myself. Tonya was joining us for lunch. I had made a lasagna from scratch the previous day, and Tonya and I were discussing the proper way to reheat it in a microwave. After all, it's too easy to give it a tough, carbonized outer shell while the inside remains cold. So we were discussing the options: microwave on lower power settings for longer periods? Cover it while cooking? Cut it into smaller pieces?

Tonya affirmed the last of these methods, in a wonderfully novel (and completely unintentional) utilization of the English Language that reminds me of all those wonderful reasons I love her:

"I think we need to reformat the lasagna."

So I repeated the words out loud to myself, rolling them around on my tongue, while my eyebrow did the Spock thing: "You say we ought to reformat the lasagna...." At which point Tonya finally saw the humor in what she had just said and started laughing at herself too.

Darn it! This lasagna has a bad sector! If we can't reconfigure it properly, we'll have to reformat the whole thing!

Of course, part of the reason it's funny is that it works, if you don't care about the appearance. And after all, it's leftovers for crying out loud; if someone is complaining about how their leftovers look messy on their plate, they're just too citified, sez I.

Well, someone else has apparently figured out that you can get a turkey to cook faster and more evenly if you just dump the core and reformat the stupid thing.

From the Instapundit:
A RECIPE FOR 45-minute Roast Turkey. Sounds good. And fast!
I saw this and out of curiosity I clicked over to the recipe. Yes, it does sound like a viable way to do the deed, so long as the turkey isn't too big--8 to 12 pounds works the best.

Basically, here's the strategy: You get a really big, heavy knife--or heavy-duty kitchen shears--or even some good tin snips, if they haven't been lubricated with grease or mineral oil. You set the turkey breast-side down on a cutting board, and you cut the backbone clean out of the bird. This will, of course, involve breaking a bunch of ribs.

Then with the turkey resembling one of those really, really backless gowns they give you in hospitals, you turn the thing breast side up, and squish it down until it lies more-or-less flat. Then you season the thing with garlic, thyme or tarragon, salt, pepper, and olive oil or butter, and roast.

The turkey has been reformatted, so the heat doesn't have anywhere near as far to penetrate, and it's done faster--and with less opportunity to dry out.

The comments to this post were interesting, too. Apparently this method of preparation is called Spatchcocking. And, as might be expected, there are people out there whose first reaction to reading this method of preparation is to say, "No, no! You're doing it all wrong!" For instance, one of the commenters linked to this guy, who recommends a method of spatchcocking that involves removing the sternum (requiring the skill of a surgeon, it seems) instead of just flattening the bird through brute strength.

And I have to say, I read this paragraph from the latter link:
It takes a very strong kitchen shears to cut the backbone closely along each side to remove it. Some people have even been known to have a pair of tinsnips dedicated for kitchen duty to handle this part. Four hands have been known to make this part easier, two to hold the bird still, and the other two to cut with the shears.
...and somehow started imagining this delicate operation being performed by the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show, which of course caused my wife to ask what all the giggling was about...

Feh, I say. I suspect that all that careful preparation defeats the purpose for most people who would use the technique: how to get a bird done with a minimum of hassle in a reasonable amount of time.

Anyway, it's a remarkably simple recipe. Given how much my wife likes roast turkey--even when it's nowhere near holiday time--I suspect we're going to have to give this method a try at some point. When we do, your intrepid blogger will report the results of the experiment, so long as we all survive.


Arby said...


Timothy Power said...

Citified. Definitely. Way too citified.