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Spatchcocked Turkey with Butternut Squash Purée

turkey sections on a bed of greens

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Featured in Season 4, Episode 6 (coming in January 2024)

Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes to 2 hours 8 minutes
Serves: Serving size varies depending on the size of the turkey 

  • 10-16 lb turkey, defrosted and brined* (optional step, see note below) 
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter 
  • 6 cloves garlic 
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 1 lemon 
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 
  • 2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes 
  • ½ cup cream 
  • 1 tbs honey 
  • kosher salt 
  • black pepper   


Optional Dry Brining Step: 

Dry brining locks in moisture, preventing your turkey from drying out in the cooking process. You will want to dry brine your turkey 2-3 days prior to roasting. Spatchcock the turkey as described below and place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine ½ tbs Morton’s kosher salt for every pound of turkey with ½ tsp light brown sugar for every pound of turkey (for example, a 12 lb bird would require 6 tbs salt and 6 tsp brown sugar). Mix and add the zest of 2 lemons, and 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Rub the brine over the entire surface of the turkey, including in between the skin and breast meat. Keep the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge one hour before roasting time, allowing the turkey to come closer to room temperature. The turkey is ready to cook at this stage, no additional seasoning is required, outside of the butter bath.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Take the turkey out of the packaging and remove the neck, heart, liver and gizzard from the cavity (reserve for other use or discard).

Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and turn breast side down, with the bottom of the turkey closest to you.

Using very sharp kitchen shears or a very sharp butchering knife, carefully cut along either side of the backbone up to the neck, removing the backbone entirely (reserving for a future use). Once the backbone is removed, feel at the top of the turkey neck for the wishbone and work to break it. Turn the bird breast side up and use the heels of your hands to press down firmly along the center of the breasts, cracking the breastbone and flattening the turkey as much as possible. Tuck the wings under and make sure the legs are folded out, ensuring that the entire leg quarter is laid out and exposed for browning in the oven. If turkey has not been brined, season liberally on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Place the butter, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Grate two cloves of garlic and add to the butter along with rosemary, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Melt the butter over medium-low heat on the stove. Stir and set aside.

Place the butternut squash cubes in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet (baking sheet should be large enough to fit the turkey). Crush the remaining 4 cloves of garlic and place on top of squash along with remaining sprigs of thyme. Place the turkey directly on top of the squash, breast side up. Spoon ¾ of the melted butter over the top of the turkey. Reserve remaining butter.

Transfer the turkey to the oven and cook for approximately 7-8 minutes per pound, reducing the heat to 375° halfway through if exterior browning seems to be happening too quickly. As all ovens are a bit different, a meat thermometer is your best friend here. You will want to remove your turkey from the oven once the temperature at the thickest part of the breast has reached 160°. The temperature of the turkey will rise an additional 10-15 degrees as it rests.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil. Remelt remaining butter and pour over the turkey breast and legs. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the butternut squash and garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor. Add the juice of ½ of a lemon, cream, and honey and purée squash until very smooth. Taste and add additional cream and lemon if desired. Transfer to a serving dish and cover to keep warm until time to serve.

Carve turkey and serve with butternut squash purée alongside.