Spatchcocking is the process of cutting out the backbone of poultry and flattening the bird. This allows the bird to cook more evenly, so all the meat is moist and tender while the skin is crispy and brown. It also makes for easily meat carving ahead, so the platter is all set when brought to the table.
Normally, I (Jim) cook my turkeys low and slow; An hour on the grill, then 4 hours in the oven at 275°F, increasing the temperature only for the last hour to crisp up the skin. It's usually a 5 - 6 hour process.
We've used this trick with chickens, successfully, to cook them in 45 min. The result is delightfully moist meat and crispy skin! We cooked our first spachcocked turkey (15 lb) for exactly 90 min to come to 158°F. We took it out and let it rest covered with foil and dish towels. Internal temperature hit 165°F within 15 min.
Thaw the poultry if necessary: In the refrigerator 1 day for each 5 lbs of bird OR in a tub of water in the refrigerator, 12 hours for each pound of bird. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the giblets and reserve for gravy. Wash the bird and pat dry. Lay breast side down. Using a sharp knife and/or scissors, saw and cut along each side of the spine to remove it. Take your time and be careful not to cut yourself. This is the hardest part! Reserve the back bone with the giblets.
While the bird is still breast-side down, score the inside of the sternum. Turn the bird over, breast side up. Press firmly on the breast until the breastbone cracks and the bird flattens out.
Rub the bird with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and herbs. Place the breast side up on wire racks on a baking sheet (baking sheet should have sides to hold the drippings). Insert a meat thermometer into the breast. Place the bird in the oven so you're able to see the thermometer reading without opening the oven door if possible. Check the internal temp in a half hour. Refrain from opening the oven often, but you may want to move the thermometer occasionally to confirm readings.
When the temperature reaches 155 -160°F, remove the bird from the oven. Leave the thermometer inserted and cover the bird with foil. Let rest for 30 min. The temp should rise to 165°F while resting. If the temp under-shoots, you risk under-cooked poultry. If the temp rises past 170, you risk dry meat.
After 30 - 60 min you can carve the bird and arrange artistically (or not!) on a platter. (Recipe♦103)