Thanksgiving is like the Super Bowl for food. All year, this is what you train for. Everything you have done up to this point is just practice for the big day. It’s the only holiday where it’s socially acceptable to refer to it by the meat you’ll be eating that day, i.e. “Turkey Day”.
Turkey Day will test not just the limits of the elastic in our sweatpants, but also our mastery of food preparation. That’s why, when the day arrives and I need to make a big play, I know exactly what to do with that turkey — wrap it in bacon.
Prepare Yourself for this Meat Tornado
1 turkey (12 – 14 pounds, thawed, giblets removed)
4 garlic cloves
½ pound butter
1 large handful mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage)
1½ pound thick-cut bacon
3 carrots, chopped
3 leeks, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, quartered
2 apples, sliced
Salt and pepper
Pre-Turkey Day Check:
A frozen turkey can take a little while to thaw. Depending on the size of your bird, it can take anywhere from 2-5 days to thaw it in the fridge, so be sure to follow the thawing guidelines to avoid a frozen turkey on the big day! Another thawing option is to let it rest in cold water for 24 hours.
Before the big day, it’s always a good idea to run through your ingredient list to make sure you have what you need. No one wants to make that last minute run to the grocery store! Also be sure you have a properly fitting pan for your turkey. We can’t afford any mistakes come Thursday.
Step One: Prepare the Turkey
Move oven rack to the bottom of the oven. Set the oven to 450 degrees. You might have noticed your turkey still has some extra parts. Reach inside and remove the neck, gizzards, liver, and heart. You can just throw them away or use them for gravy. Rinse your bird our with cold water. Now, carefully slide your hands between the turkey and the skin to separate and lift. We’re going to stick some bacon butter in there.
Step Two: Bacon Butter
Finely mince your garlic cloves using a food processor. Add in other herbs, briefly pulsing to chop them up. Finally, add the softened butter and ½ pound of bacon. Use pulses to carefully chop up the bacon with the other ingredients.
Take half of your bacon butter and spread it underneath the turkey skin. Really get in there. Once you’ve gotten under its skin, massage the other half over the skin. Season with salt and pepper.
Step Three: Blanket of Bacon
Begin by wrapping the drumsticks with bacon. Cover each one with overlapping strips of bacon.
Just below the neck (hole), lay a horizontal strip of bacon across the breast. Then place a vertical strip on one side, going from top to bottom. Continue alternating horizontal and vertical strips to weave a grid-like blanket of bacon onto your turkey.
Step Four: Cooking
Place the carrots, leeks, celery, apples, and onions in the bottom of your roasting pan. You’ll then place the roasting rack on top of the vegetables, and then the turkey on top of that.
Cook the turkey at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
At this time, cover the bacon with tin foil. You’ll then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and continue cooking for up to 3 ½ hours. When it starts getting close, you’ll want to check the internal temperature of the turkey using a thermometer. Your turkey should reach 160 degrees.
Simple, Yet Effective
While there is a small amount of preparation and you need to keep your eye on things, this turkey recipe is pretty easy. There’s no brine or any stuffing of weird stuff inside the bird; it’s really all about the bacon. And I think that everything should always be about the bacon.