Cory Doctorow let me in on the secret of turkey spatchcocking (removing the backbone so you can flatten it before cooking) and now it's the only way I'll cook a turkey. I always ask the butcher to spatchcock it, for two reasons: one, I don't know how to spatchcock, and two, it gives me an excuse to say "spatchcock."
Today, The Washington Post posted a recipe titled "Dry-brined, spatchcocked turkey with herb butter delivers crispy skin under 90 minutes." I've saved it to my Plan to Eat recipe list for Thanksgiving.
Spatchcocking, a.k.a. removing the backbone and flattening the bird, and a hot oven allows the turkey to cook in a fraction of the time compared to when kept whole. Say goodbye to the days of tending to a turkey in the oven for hours, and hello to more time to focus on other parts of the meal. (A probe thermometer that stays in the turkey while it roasts is great for monitoring doneness without having to constantly open the oven.) Spatchcocking also promotes more even cooking, so the breast meat still stays nice and moist once the thighs have reached the proper temperature.
When it comes to brining, I prefer it dry over wet because it's less cumbersome and has the added bonus of incredibly crispy skin. In this recipe, I rely just on salt and a couple of days in the fridge to accomplish this task. Even more flavor comes from a compound butter with fresh tarragon, garlic, lemon zest and black pepper that gets rubbed underneath, and on top of, the skin. (I love the woodsy, citrusy note tarragon has, but you can add or substitute other herbs, such as parsley, thyme or sage, for a different flavor profile.) Then a trip to the oven for about an hour — yes, an hour — and you're one step closer to Thanksgiving success.