Butterflied herb-roasted turkey

(Food styling/Tony Rosenfeld; Wiqan Ang for The Boston Globe)
By Tony Rosenfeld
November 19, 2008
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Serves 10

Here are instructions for removing the backbone of the turkey to butterfly it. You need kitchen shears and a roasting pan large enough to hold the flattened bird, and an instant-read meat thermometer. Have the stuffing ready. If you want to prepare this in advance, season the turkey the day before so the salt has a chance to penetrate the meat.

14 pound turkey (reserve neck and gizzard for gravy)
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 recipe Fennel and apple stuffing (see recipe)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Position an oven rack on the lower shelf.

2. Check the turkey vent and neck and remove any giblets in the bird. Set the turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove a strip about 2 inches wide (save this for soup). Turn the bird over so it's flesh side down. With your hands, press down on the breasts to flatten them, bending them back as you would a paperback book. Wipe the bird with damp paper towels and pat it dry.

3. In a small bowl, combine the salt, thyme, sage, and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture all over the turkey. Using your fingers to make a pocket between the skin and breast meat and the skin and leg meat, rub some of the herb mixture in the pockets.

4. Spread the stuffing in the roasting pan. Set the bird, skin side up, on top. Tuck up the drumsticks so the legs overlap the breast. Tuck the wing tips behind the wings. Brush the skin with some of the butter.

5. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Brush with more butter. Continue roasting, brushing occasionally, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest parts of the thigh registers 170 degrees. (total cooking time is about 2 1/2 hours).

6. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board; let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

7. Return the stuffing in the pan to the oven. Raise the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake the stuffing for 20 minutes or until it is brown and crisp.

8. With clean shears, cut the turkey up the center. Snip the legs from the breast. With a long knife, carve the breast meat off the bone and arrange on a platter. Set the drumsticks on the platter. Carve the thigh meat off the bone and arrange on the platter.

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