The holidays are long over, but here is Pennsyltucky, it’s beginning to feel a lot like winter. We had a few inches of snow fall last night, so my plans of deep frying a turkey went out the window. Not one to waste an opportunity though, as I already had my bird defrosted, it seemed like a great chance to try a variation of my bacon wrapped turkey. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m running low on turkey stock.
I’ve seen, and worked with, all kinds of ways to cook whole turkeys in the oven. From my grandmothers “cook the night before and reheat” which is a terrible idea, to my personal favorite of on a rotisserie. Weather being the issue, I prefer to cook my turkeys in the oven a bit differently than most. Instead of just putting it breast up in a pan, and fighting to keep it moist while also not falling apart or greasy, I use one of my favorite kitchen accessories.
It is this cute triangle, which holds the bird breast side down AND out of the drippings. This allows the bird to cook fully, without absorbing extra grease and oil, but still maintain moisture with all of the juices flowing into the breast instead of the pan. This also allows for some creativity in flavoring the bird, allowing sauces and glazes to be applied easier, and also allowing for extra flavor by stuffing the cavity with fruit and herbs.
You can’t cook stuffing in the bird with it upside down, but for both taste and health reasons, you shouldn’t be cooking stuffing inside the bird anyway. Alton Brown explains it much better in the Good Eats episode “Stuffing is Evil”, but basically, to get the stuffing to a safe temperature, you have to overcook the bird. But you also wind up with gummy nasty stuffing. We prefer to make stuffing balls, and cook them alongside the bird. The balls allow more area to become crunchy, and lets everyone enjoy it instead of just those lucky enough for corner pieces from a pan.
I personally don’t brine my turkey to cook in the oven, I find them juicy enough already, and the drippings too salty to make good gravy with.
- 1 Turkey
- 2lbs bacon
- 1 pear, halved
- 1 apple, halved
- 2 cups chipotle cherry bbq sauce
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1/2 stem rosemary
- 4 cups water
- Make the bacon weave. I like to do this the night before, and honestly, I’m still not very good at it. I made 2 separate weaves, which is why I used 2 lbs of bacon. Honestly, I think one is enough if made correctly, but this is thin bacon.
- Put the turkey on the rack and stuff the cavity with fruit and herbs, if desired, brush on a coat of sauce.
- Wrap the turkey in the bacon. I went with 2 weaves this time to drape one over the top, and connect to one pulled up from the bottom with toothpicks. I just don’t have the table space to attempt to roll the turkey into the weave.
- Coat the now bacon covered turkey with more sauce using a brush, gloves, however you need to, try to cover the whole turkey. You can also pour some in the cavity.
- Cook. Put the turkey into a 325* oven and let cook 18 to 20 minutes a pound.
- If desired, baste with another coat of sauce around the half way mark.
- Before your turkey finishes cooking, when a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 140-145, turn the oven up to broil for the last few degrees to crisp the outside up and make the sauce a bit of a crust.
- Pull the turkey at 150*, and allow to rest. I leave it on the rack to rest, but you could also transfer to a serving tray at this point.
- After 30 minutes, or when the temperature has risen to 160*, your turkey is done. Remove to a serving platter if you’ve not done so, remove the toothpicks from the bacon weave if you used them, and carve.
- I made turkey gravy with turkey stock, because I personally think it’s too greasy, while still extremely delicious, when made with bacon wrapped turkey drippings. If you have a fat separator though, feel free to try.
- I also made giblet gravy in the pressure cooker with the giblets and neck, there will be a post.
- I prefer my smoker thermometer when I do big things like this, instead of losing heat opening the oven all the time, I just stick the probe in when the bird goes in, and track the temp on its wireless receiver. Well worth the money.
- The carcass can be frozen, but after dinner when I carve up the leftovers, I throw it straight in the pressure cooker to start a batch of stock, so I only have to do dishes one big time.