“Save the neck for me, Clark” – Cousin Eddie

Why do we do this to ourselves every year?

We say we’re going to cook it according to the recipe, but that never works.

And so, year after year, we end up cooking the same dry turkey.

And since we’ve been cooking turkeys for hundreds of years, theoretically since the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts in December of 1620, you would think we’d have figured it out by now.

But we did.

Here’s how it actually works

It turns out that the white meat is different from the dark meat. It has less fat, among other things, and so the white meat cooks at a lower temperature than the dark meat.

This means that while the dark meat is becoming juicy and tender, the white meat is overcooking to that predictable, stringy, papery texture.


So how do we fix it?

Smart cooks figured it out.

It’s called spatchcocking.

You basically butterfly the turkey and lay it out on the baking tray.

Spatchcocked Turkey

The convection around the turkey allows the temperature to be lower near the breast and higher near the thighs. I know, it’s perfect.

So, then, why do we insist on cooking dry turkey every year?

Because of this:

When Norman Rockwell painted “Freedom From Want” in November of 1942, it was published in the magazine The Post the following March. It resonated with many people because of the socioeconomic hardships many Americans were facing.

It resonated so much that, to this day, we cook our turkeys to look like the one in the painting.

That’s about as far as I can logically explain the phenomenon.

So, as we floss the remainder of that turkey from our overworked teeth this week, let’s consider how we’ll approach the last of the winter holidays.

You can choose.

It’s not taste vs. aesthetic.

It’s taste vs. sentiment.

And the sentiment can change–but we have to change the way we cook the turkey first, and then the sentiment will follow.

And then, pretty soon, with enough people, we’ll all have spatchcocked turkeys.

And then, not long after that, spatchcocked turkeys will be the way we’ve always done it.

And then the taste and the sentiment will be in harmony.

But it does require you to do something different, first.

It requires you to be the first to change things from the way we’ve always done them to the way we do them now because the way we do them now is better.

2 Minute Action:

Quick: write up a list of things that you do that you’ve always done. On it, you might have ways to cook a turkey, but it might also have ways to get married, process TPS reports, or retire.

Now pick just one of those things that seems important and urgent.

If you could design it from scratch, for what you need, according to what you value, how might you do it?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x