Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Raw Turkey Image 2 As it is but once a year most of us cook something as large as a turkey – it is no wonder that roasting the perfect bird causes so much stress and anxiety. From Albany to Albuquerque,  hosts and guests alike hope for a turkey that’s moist and delicious – not dry and dreadful. Being British and embracing the tradition of Sunday roast –  roasting meat is a pretty regular occurrence in this house. However, when it comes to roasting turkey, I take a few additional steps to ensure a truly Thanksgiving worthy bird. And of course any time I can incorporate bacon into a recipe I do … doesn’t bacon make everything better!

Turkey is cooked low and slow in a 325˚F oven for approximately 15 minutes per pound. So a 12 pound bird takes about 3 hours. The best way to make sure your turkey is cooked perfectly and safely is to use a meat thermometer. You want to insert it into the dark meat (not near a bone).  It should read 165˚F. Check out the USDA’s  Safe Turkey Roasting Tips.

The rule of thumb for turkey size is approximately 1 lb per person before cooking. If you want some leftovers … which who doesn’t? Go slightly bigger. I am not a fan of stuffing my bird. I like the stuffing separate and safe and as we carve in the kitchen rather than table side,  no one is the wiser.

Here is my Thanksgiving Turkey recipe … enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Turkey with Gravy

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, paper towel, large baking pan, turkey baster, pastry brush, meat thermometer, large Pyrex measuring jug, whisk, small strainer, cutting board, chef’s knife, paring knife, aluminum foil, dish towel

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 12 – 14 lb turkey
  • 1 lb pack bacon
  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks (with tops)
  • salt
  • pepper

For the Turkey: Preheat oven to 325˚F. Rinse, peel and chop the carrots, onionPlace all but a few slices of each at the bottom of the roasting pan. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and discard. Rinse and pat dry the turkPlace on the veggie bed. Put the remaining onions, carrots and celery inside the cavity of the bird. Cut the butter into pats and loosen skin on the breast meat. Place pats under skin, atop the breast meat. Season all over generously with salt and pepper. Take the bacon slices and working in a criss cross pattern – lay the strips of bacon (overlapping them) across the breast of the turkey. Wrap the bacon wrapped breast in foil and place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes per pound or to an internal temperature of 165˚F. Check the bird every 30 minutes or so, basting with pan drippings as you go. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes to brown and crisp up the turkey skin and the bacon. When turkey is cooked through, remove from oven.  Rest on a heated platter, covered in foil with a dish towel on top until ready to carve. While it’s resting work on the gravy.

For the Gravy:

  • 2  cups low salt chicken / turkey stock + 1 cup pan drippings
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 1/2 tbs flour
  • bits from the bottom of the pan + 4 tbs of fat from drippings
  • salt
  • pepper

Before you begin pour all the pan drippings into a large Pyrex jug (leaving behind the veggies and bits on the bottom of the roasting pan). Let it sit for a few minutes until the fat (yellowish clear liquid) rises to the top. Place 4 tbs of the fat back in the roasting pan. Discard the remainder of the fat and set the pan drippings aside. Heat the roasting pan on the stove top over a medium-high heat. Add in 4 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Use a wooden spoon to mix that in with all the bits on the bottom of the pan including the onion, carrot and celery. Cook the fat and flour mixture until it begins to color. Next add the wine. The alcohol will cook off, but adds some great flavor to the gravy. Once you’ve successfully gotten all the bits off the bottom of the pan and cooked off most of the wine, add in the stock and pan drippings and bring to a boil. Simmer until the gravy is thickened. Pour the gravy through a fine sieve to catch all the yucky bits – including the onion, carrot and celery slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: Heat your gravy boat prior to putting the gravy in. This will keep in nice and hot at the table.

Leave a Comment