Bacon Wrapped Turkey

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In 2012 I was surfing the internet one day and found a recipe for a Bacon Wrapped Turkey. I knew that we were going to be cooking Thanksgiving again this year so I shot the recipe to hubby and asked what he thought. He read through it and said he was in. So the next task was gathering the ingredients.

We’ve made it 2 years now and plan on making it again this year. (last year hubs thought he’d do it but smoked it instead of the oven. Then we forgot our bacon blanket….)

The Turkey

This recipe is for an 18-20lb turkey but extremely easy to adjust for bigger or smaller. And make sure that if you’re using a frozen turkey you give ample time to defrost it!
What you’ll need:
A large plastic bag (optional, it’s just used for the brining process)
A platter or pan that fits the turkey in the fridge (I use a big stock pot and no bag and get along fine)
Kitchen twine
A roasting pan that fits the turkey (and fits in your oven. Check, this is important!)
A probe-style meat thermometer.
A turkey (remember, if it’s frozen, give it ample time to defrost!)
Lots of Kosher Salt
1 1/2 pounds bacon
1/2 pound butter
Fresh herbs: sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram, rosemary
Roasting Vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, apples
Brining the turkey:
Dry Brine the turkey. It works great and is super simple. We learned don’t brine the turkey more than 24 hours in advance or it gets too salty. One year we salted it Monday night and wow, the turkey was way to salty and my husband salts his food and he kept claiming that it was too salty. Remove all the interior parts from the bird.  Discard them or use them for stock, or the giblets for gravy.  Wash the bird well, inside and out. Place the bird in your brining bag or pot of choice.  Rub kosher salt all over the turkey, inside and out.  Use a lot of salt.  Wash your hands. Put the turkey in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Thoroughly wash the sink you rinsed the turkey in and your hands.

For the Butter:

You can make this up to a week in advance to help with time on Thanksgiving day, especially if you have to get up at the crack of dawn for a noon lunch. We eat in the evening so there isn’t as much of a push but we still make the butter in advance.

In a food processor,  add 1/2 lb raw bacon slices, 1/2 lb butter and generous handfuls of the herbs (sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram, rosemary). I don’t have exact measurements we use for each of the herbs, just play around with it, we do every year. haha. Place the lid on the food processor and blend together until it makes a smooth paste.

Now if you’re going to store, place in an airtight container.

Preparing turkey day of:

Bring the bacon butter to room temperature.

While that’s going on, bring the turkey out of the container you were brining in and rinse it thoroughly. Place it breast side up on a cutting board or large platter to prepare it. Wash your sink out.

Take the pop-up timer out of your turkey if it comes with one, it’s useless!

Wash your hands and get ready to get messy. It is helpful to have help because this gets messy! Take your rings and watch off. Now gently pry the skin away from the bird without tearing it. You just want to stick your hands between the meat and skin because you’re going to be placing the butter mixture between the skin and meat. Keep going all the way to the neck and over the legs. Try not to tear the skin but don’t worry if you do, it’s not a huge deal!

Now take big fistfuls of butter and rub it up under the skin and all over the flesh. Use about 3/4 of the bacon butter under the flesh. Now pat the skin down into the butter; this helps spread the butter evenly under the skin. Rub the remaining butter on the outside of the bird in a thin layer, paying particular attention to the legs as they won’t be covered by bacon.

Not only does the bacon make your bird have an extremely nice presentation but it helps keep the bird from drying out. Plus, bonus, it makes the gravy all that much better if you use the drippings!

We use thick cut bacon because as the bacon cooks, remember it starts to shrink a little. Plan for about 1 pound of bacon, give or take.

Placing the bacon:

Think of a pie how you do the lattice work… well that’s what you’re going to do with the bacon on the outside of the turkey. Lay one strip crosswise over the breast, then one lengthwise. Keep going, folding up the strips already placed to fit the new ones under.  The bacon will shrink when you cook the bird, so place the strips close together and use as many as you can fit.

Tie the legs of the bird together with kitchen twine. When you’ve got the bacon all woven, wash your hands thoroughly.

The bacon blanket can be done the night before if you are doing lunch so you’re not having to get up so early. Just make sure the bird on the platter fits in your fridge. Since we do dinner, we do this step in the morning so we’re ready to go for cooking the bird.

Cooking the bird:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Remember, remove the extra rack in your oven if you need to so the bird fits because it sucks to remove it when it’s that hot!

Now to make your clean up easier (not totally mess free but easier) you can line your broiling pan in heavy duty aluminum foil.

Now you’re going to chop up the vegetables. You want very aromatic root vegetables so we use carrots, celery, onions and apples. Take the outside skins and tops off the carrots, the celery can be chopped into smaller bits or not, your choice. Peel the outside paper skin off the onions and halve or quarter the onions. Chop the apples into halves or quarters, take the stem and seeds out. Stuff some of the pieces of apples, onions, celery and carrots into the cavity of the bird also. Also stick some of the herbs in the cavity of the bird as well.

Go ahead and mold a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the bird so that if it starts to get to brown later on in the cooking process, you already have the aluminum foil ready to place on the bird.

Roasting the turkey:

Place the turkey in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees for the rest of the turkey cooking process. This is where a nice probe comes in handy, stick the probe in the deepest part of the breast and you can place the reader up on the counter and it chimes when the bird is fully cooked; carefully sliding the probe between an opening in the bacon blanket. Make sure you don’t’ go so deep you hit the bone. You want the turkey to be cooked to 165 degrees.

If the turkey and bacon start to get too brown, this is where you put the aluminum top on it that you created before placing it in the oven.

For a 20 pound turkey, you’re looking at about 4-4 1/2 hours. Leave yourself some wiggle room… the turkey will wait, hungry people won’t. ha!

Carving the turkey:

Let someone else do it :). ha! Now that the turkey is fully cooked, place it out so your family/friends can oohhh and ahhhh and then it’s time to cut. I don’t carve a turkey, I leave that to the professionals.

Take the juices from cooking and make gravy. or if you’re at our house, this is where hubby and I get into an argument every year on how to make the gravy. One year my parents sent us to separate ends of the house for a minute. I wish I was kidding.

I make my gravy by making a roux out of flour & butter, he would rather make with cornstarch. Let’s just say last year we went his way and it was all thrown out… I’m not bragging or anything…… :). But we also smoked the turkey so there were no drippings to add to the gravy for flavor. Maybe I should point that out?

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