Why It Works
- Spatchcocking the bird results in meat that cooks faster and more evenly, with better-browned, crispier skin.
- Pushing the moist herb and spice mixture under the skin infuses its flavor into the meat and avoids the scorching that tends to happen when spices are rubbed on the outside of the skin.
The woodsy herb, fennel, and garlic flavors in a classic Italian porchetta are an absolutely natural match for turkey, which is why we stuff them under the skin in this easy recipe. It's such a great pairing, we're surprised the Pilgrims didn't think of it first.
- 3 large onions, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 quarts; 1 1/2 pounds; 680g), divided
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 quart; 12 ounces; 340g), divided
- 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped (about 1 quart; 12 ounces; 340g), divided
- 12 thyme sprigs, divided
- 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns (1/4 ounce; 6g)
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed (1/4 ounce; 8g)
- 1 teaspoon (2g) red pepper flakes
- 4 medium cloves garlic (3/4 ounce; 20g)
- 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves (1/2 ounce; 15g)
- 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds total; 5.5 to 6.3kg), butterflied according to these instructions, backbone, neck, and giblets reserved
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 quarts (1.4L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
- 2 bay leaves
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scatter two-thirds of onions, carrots, celery, and thyme sprigs across pan. Place a wire rack directly on top of vegetables.
Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine peppercorns, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, garlic, and sage leaves and process or crush until a rough paste is formed, scraping down sides as needed.
Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil all over turkey, then season liberally on all surfaces with salt and black pepper. (If using a brined, salted, or kosher turkey, omit salting step; see note.) Using your hands, carefully separate skin from turkey breast and leg meat while leaving it fully intact. Stuff three-quarters of herb mixture under skin, making sure to spread it around in an even layer that covers as much of the meat as possible; try to avoid leaving large clumps in any one place. Rub remaining herb mixture all over underside of turkey.
Tuck wing tips behind back. Place turkey on top of rack, arranging so that it does not overlap the edges, pressing down on breastbone to flatten breasts slightly.
Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 150°F (66°C) and thighs register at least 165°F (74°C), about 1 hour 20 minutes.
While turkey roasts, make jus. Roughly chop reserved neck, backbone, and giblets. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add chopped turkey parts and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add remaining onions, carrots, and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and brown in spots, about 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock, remaining thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Simmer until reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-quart liquid measuring cup and discard solids. Skim off any fat from surface of broth. Season jus to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm.
When turkey is cooked, remove from oven and transfer rack to a new baking sheet. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Carefully pour any collected juices from pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Skim off excess fat and discard. Whisk juices into jus.
Carve turkey and serve with jus.
For best results, dry-brine your turkey by following the instructions here. If dry-brining, omit any extra salt added to the turkey in step 3. For full step-by-step photos demonstrating how to prepare a butterflied turkey for roasting, check out the slideshow here.