You may have read earlier how my family gave up on eating roast turkey for Thanksgiving. We turned to chickens and game hens for our alternative Thanksgiving menus. Here’s another confession: I hate to turn the bird in a hot oven. I’ll do it when it’s necessary but frankly, when I’ve got a bunch of guests over, perhaps had too much wine to drink, and want to have a relaxing time, I don’t want to flip the bird. The spewing fat and hot oven can ruin things.
My solution to avoid turning the bird is butterflying, which is basically removing the backbone and flattening the bird out. The result looks like an open book.
The advantages of roasting a butterflied bird are these:
- No need to flip the bird: All the skin is facing upward. The butterflied bird bonus is more crisp skin.
- Quick roasting time: It’s splayed out flat so all the parts are done at the same time. The breast doesn’t dry out.
- Great flavor: You can easily get under the skin to season the flesh and tuck herbs in between. Plus herbs put under the bird contribute flavor too. Stuff the stuffing, as well.
- Easy to cut: Tableside carving of a whole bird is a special skill. A butterflied roasted bird sits flat and is easier to cut up in front of a crowd. On the other hand, you can be Asian and cut the bird in the kitchen and present it in large bite-size pieces. Guests using chopsticks may appreciate that!
I've butterflied game hens too and things are just the same, just smaller. You can grill a butterflied bird quite nicely too.