You've got to try this incredible bacon wrapped turkey
This is one of the best turkeys I have made, which is saying a lot because I have cooked dozens of turkeys. I first heard about this turkey at a dinner party in Bend, Oregon. Our hosts raved about their bacon-wrapped turkey and quickly whipped out their phones to show off pictures of a mind-bending turkey wrapped in a woven bacon jacket.
There is more to this turkey than a bacon jacket. You compound a bacon herb butter in the food processor and slather it both under the skin and over the skin. I knew this turkey would be exceptional, but I had no idea how exceptional.
I did my research and found several versions of bacon-wrapped turkey on the internet. The most detailed recipe I found was by Perre Coleman Magness, published in 2011 at The Runaway Spoon, and I credit Perre for showing me the way. I have not been able to track down the first bacon wrapped turkey, but Serious Eats has an article going back to 2007 that cites other bacon wrapped turkeys. So my big question is "How did I miss this gorgeous method for making turkey for all of these years?"
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I take a very streamlined approach to this turkey. I don't brine it and I don't stuff it, two steps I have always taken before. This turkey is for:
- the minimalist who wants to create a great, flavorful moist turkey with a big wow factor
- the bacon enthusiast who knows everything is better with bacon
- the crafty person who enjoys weaving the perfect turkey jacket.
Weaving the jacket is actually easy to do and brings out your inner kindergartener.
Even if you are a turkey novice, you can make this turkey!
Another short cut
This may shock you, but I don't wash my turkey. For that matter, I don't wash my chicken either. I know this sounds shocking and a little gross, but studies show that washing poultry spreads bacteria that causes salmonella and other deleterious critters that can make you sick. See my post to learn why washing your poultry is not a good idea and what important step you must to take to make sure your turkey is safely cooked.
Use a thermometer
Skip the pop up thermometer that comes with the turkey and get yourself a good digital thermometer. It is the only way to truly tell when the turkey is done. This is the thermometer I use:
Make sure you snap a photo or two of your bacon-clad bird and enter it into our turkey photo contest. We'd love to share your masterpiece with other readers. We have two great prizes for the top two entries: a Cuisinart Mini-prep and a CDN quick-read thermometer. The deadline to enter the contest is 12/3/2014.
We posted this turkey recipe in November 2014. It was one of our most popular recipes ever. In 2015, we came up with a variation on this turkey, Bacon-Wrapped Spatchcocked Turkey That Cooks In 80 Minutes. It too, is pretty awesome. I would check both out before deciding which one to make.
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ pound butter, room temperature
- 1 large handful mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage)
- 1½ pound thick cut bacon, divided
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3" pieces
- 3 leeks, cleaned and cut into 3" pieces
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 3" pieces
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 apple, sliced peels on
- 1 14-pound turkey
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Place oven shelf in bottom of the oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the garlic cloves in a food processor and whirl to finely mince. Add herbs and briefly pulse to chop. Add butter and ½ pound of bacon and pulse to combine.
- Remove the neck, gizzards, liver, pop-up thermometer and assorted parts that come with your turkey and discard, unless you use these for gravy. Slide your hands between the turkey and the skin to separate. Work your hands all the way around the turkey so that the skin is separates from the flesh.
- Take half of the compounded bacon-herb butter and spread it all around underneath the turkey skin. Rub the remaining butter compound over the skin, giving the turkey a good butter-bacon massage. Season with salt and pepper.
- Start by wrapping the drumsticks. Begin at the back to the drumstick and wind the bacon around trying to slightly overlap each piece until each drumstick is covered.
- Place a horizontal strip of bacon across the breast just below the neck hole. Now place a vertical strip of bacon on the far right of the bird, going from the neck end towards the bottom of the bird.
- Alternate weaving horizontal strips and vertical strips until the entire top of the turkey is covered in the jacket. Take care to slightly overlap each strip. Using some kitchen string, tie the legs of the bird together.
- Place an oven rack in the bottom of the oven and remove all the top racks. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Scatter the carrots, leeks, celery, onion and apples in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place a roasting rack on top of the vegetables and place the turkey on top of the rack.
- Roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees and then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Watch the bacon and as soon as it begins to darken cover with tin foil, usually in the first 30 minutes. Cook the turkey until its internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, about 15 minutes per pound or about 3½ hours total for a 14 pound bird.
- When turkey reaches 155 to 160 degrees, remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving. The turkey will continue to cook while resting and the internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees. Always use a thermometer to safely determine when the turkey is done.
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