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Bacon Wrapped Thanksgiving Turkey

To all fellow bacon lovers – what may be even better than wrapping steak or jalapenos or chicken breasts in bacon? Turkey! The end result may not look like the quintessential golden skinned turkey, but boy is it moist and flavorful! Our traditional method is to use a smoker to do the turkey, along with whatever appetizers we crave, like stuffed mushrooms, and even throw in the occasional bunch of jalapenos, tomatoes and onions, which make a smokin’ salsa. Our current living situation, at the top of an apartment building, is not conducive with smoker use. We didn’t want the landlord following the trail of smoke and nagging us about rule breaking. A quick searing of steaks on the balcony grill is one thing, but eight or so hours of trailing smoke is more than what we thought we could get away with. We went ahead and did an oven version this year. I am curious about how this recipe would work in a smoker, but we will have to find out another time. It was fun to do the bacon wrapping and watch the bacon get dark and crispy. Instead of having the typical crispy skin to eat, we had a blanket of bacon. The skin kind of melted into the meat, becoming part of the bacon. I am not sure how it happened, but the results were very satisfying. I got the idea from here, but made adjustments, since we are particular about fresh herbs for Thanksgiving, even though we often rely on the dried stuff most of year. The bird was stuffed with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and the herb combination that turned out wonderful. There are various versions of this recipe with comments about soft bacon, but I don’t know what they are talking about. As you can see, there is a crispy shell on it and the meat is well cooked and moist and wonderful. If you follow my instructions you should be able to get the same results. Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Thanksgiving Turkey

One 15-pound turkey
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
½ cup fresh tarragon leaves
½ cup fresh sage leaves
¼ cup rosemary leaves
10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ cups olive oil
4 cups vegetables, including carrots, celery, onion and garlic
3 pounds bacon, sliced into thin strips

Wash the turkey inside and out and pat dry. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour uncovered to cool. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Mix together the herbs, minced garlic and olive oil to make a paste. Rub the paste in the cavity and underneath the skin of the breasts of the turkey, carefully so you do not tear the skin. Fill the cavity with the vegetable mixture, and place in a roasting pan. Add 1-2 cups of water in the roasting pan, so there is about ¼ inch of water, then roast the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the heat to 350 degrees. Cover the turkey in the bacon slices, in cross-hatch form* or just by overlapping the slices in strips. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. Put the turkey back in the oven and continue to cook for about 20 minutes per pound (about three hours total, including the high temperature period) until an internal thermometer temperature reaches 160 degrees. 

*To do the cross hatch on top and bottom there can be preparation while the high temperature cooking happens. Take two pieces of wax or parchment paper, about two feet long each. Create the cross hatch by alternating bacon pieces into one foot by one foot sections. After the turkey finishes the first half hour of cooking, move the turkey to a surface where juices can drain. In the baking pan flip one of the cross hatch sections into the dish and spread it out. Place the turkey on top, then flip the second cross hatch on top. Between the wings and legs connect the cross hatch edges as much as reasonably possible. Wrap the wings and legs with bacon strips, making sure to cover all the meat and skin. Add a few more pieces on the top and bottom of the cross hatch pattern to cover all surfaces of the turkey.

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