Monday, November 4, 2013

A Bacon Blanket for Thanksgiving Turkey

I'm planning for Thanksgiving this year. We're going out of town before Thanksgiving, but will be back in time for the big day. Regardless of where we go, what we bring, and who is there, we will have all the makings for a full Thanksgiving meal at our house during the month of November. This is the turkey that I made last year and it was awesome. Seriously. People are still talking about it.

The best part of this turkey is the gravy. It's bacon infused gravy. It's incredible. This turkey was one of the best I've ever had. I have made it several times since last Thanksgiving and it's been incredible every time.

If you're planning for Thanksgiving, add this to your menu. You won't regret it!

This post originally appeared on November 19, 2011.

It's just a few days before Thanksgiving and this recipe is too good not to share again. I made this turkey last year and made it again for our young adult Thanksgiving last week. The turkey was incredible. But even better than that, the gravy and turkey stock was equally incredible. Not only did we enjoy eating the turkey for our meal, but the leftover turkey, gravy, and stock enhanced several other dishes as well. And we all know us Johnstons think bacon makes everything better, so this recipe can't be beat.

I learned a few things from my turkey experience last year.
  1. We began defrosting the turkey immediately. It never went to the freezer in our house. It went straight from the store into the fridge. It was in there about 4 days and was completely defrosted when I got it out to prepare.
  2. Slather the bacon butter with a spatula not your hands. Unless you want yours hands to smell like bacon all day...which I do... 
  3. Try to make the bacon weave attractive. This year I pinned down the bacon with tooth picks. I looked for baker's twine at Home Goods (they had it and I didn't get it, got home and kicked myself for 3 days, went back and it was gone...) without success.
Here's how it all worked this year...

Clean the defrosted turkey and remove the giblets. Clean and dry the turkey. A dry turkey will be crisp and delicious! Place the turkey on a roasting pan. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and put the roasting pan on the baking sheet. (We didn't have a roasting pan largest enough for this turkey so instead I put a silpat inside of a glass casserole dish.)

While the turkey dries, prepare the bacon butter. Blend or process 2 pieces of bacon into 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Add 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Gently pull the turkey skin away from the breast. Try not to tear the skin. Rub most of the bacon butter under the skin. Pat the skin back down. You've created a bacon butter, turkey skin, turkey breast sandwich. YUM!

With the remaining butter, cover the thighs and legs of the turkey.
Once your turkey is covered in buttery, bacon deliciousness, it's time for veggies! I used celery, carrots, onions, and rosemary. I cut the onion into eighths and placed the pieces in and around the turkey. Then I cut the celery and carrots into sticks and did the same thing. I took 4 large sprigs of rosemary and shoved them in the body of the turkey.
Now it's time to add more bacon. Take the rest of the bacon and weave it on the turkey to completely cover the turkey. The Runaway Spoon makes it look absolutely gorgeous. My turkey aspires to be this turkey, but can't quite live up to the expectation. But really, as much as I'd love for my turkey to be gorgeous, she's covered in bacon, which makes her fantastic. :-) I used toothpicks to keep the bacon in place and it seemed to work well. I didn't use many and tried to remember where they were so I could remove all of them when the turkey came out of the oven.

At this point, you're turkey is ready for baking! Put the turkey in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 375 and continue baking. The turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees. For our 18 pounder, this took about 3 hours.

18 pound turkey, defrosted
4 tablespoons of butter
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon of salt
1 pound of bacon, divided
1 onion
2-3 stalks of celery
2-3 carrots

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees while you clean and dry the turkey. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place the turkey on a roasting rack and place that on the baking sheet. Chop veggies to prepare for the turkey. Prepare the butter by chopping in 2 pieces of bacon and seasonings. Gently put the butter between the skin and flesh of the turkey.

Layer the bacon on the turkey in a basket-weave. Secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks. Fill the cavity with veggies and herbs.

Bake at 450 for 30 minutes and reduce temperature to 375. Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Allow the turkey to rest before carving and serving.

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