The countdown to T-day has begun! We are a week out from Thanksgiving, and I’m already prepping for the big meal. The menu is set, the cranberry sauce is made, and the groceries have been ordered. After cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the past 6 years, my husband and I have this down to a science. Especially, the turkey!
With the size of most city ovens, figuring out the day of cooking schedule can be tricky. Roasting a turkey doesn’t just take most of the day, it will also take up most of the room in the oven! Luckily, we are able to prep most of the food the day ahead. On the actual day, we really only cook the turkey and our popovers. Once the turkey is out, we pop the rest of the sides in the oven to heat up for 30 minutes, and dinner is served!
Everything is Better with Bacon
Prior to meeting my husband, I had only had roast turkey that was dry, and fairly flavorless. It really was something I put on my plate more out of obligation, than desire. That all changed when my husband started cooking our bird. The first year we hosted Thanksgiving, we cooked made two kinds: brined , and maple bacon. While the brined turkey was certainly succulent, the maple bacon one blew it out of the water. I had never experienced such a flavorful and juicy Thanksgiving bird. It was amazing.
He starts by making a sage and lemon butter, that he then stuffs between the skin and breast meat. Next, he combines maple syrup, lemon juice and hot water to make the glaze. With a brush, he lightly paints the breast, wings and drumsticks with the glaze, and then blankets thick slabs of hand cut bacon across the entire bird. To finish, he adds fresh sprigs of rosemary under some of the bacon, and stuffs the cavity with lemon slices and fresh herbs. Sometimes we add carrots into the cavity, and bottom of the roasting pan.
The turkey is roasted at 350 degrees until done. The time varies depending on the size of your bird, but estimate 15-20 minutes per pound. As the bird roasts, he checks it about every 40 minutes, to baste with more of the glaze. If the bird starts to burn in any spot, he will cover that area with some tin foil. Before having my husband’s turkey, I honestly wasn’t a huge turkey fan. It always seemed dry and flavorless. After having my husband’s bird, I am singing a different tune. I never knew how enjoyable turkey could be before this! We make it a point now to cook a bird slightly larger than is needed, just so we have enough leftovers.
- 1 cup of grass-fed butter, softened
- 1 bunch of fresh sage (chopped)
- 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary
- 1 Turkey (between 8-12 lbs)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 2 lemons
- 1.5 thick-cut bacon
- 1/4 cup Otto's Cassava Flour
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and remove the top rack.
- Remove neck and gizzards from the bird. Scrub the bird with handfuls of the kosher salt, and rinse off well (including the cavity). Pat dry, and set on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter and sage. Zest one lemon into the butter as well, and combine.
- Use your fingers to make pockets between the breast meat of the turkey, and the skin. Massage 1/3 of the butter mixture under the skin of each breast. Take the remaining butter, and massage it into the outer skin of the bird, especially wings and drumsticks.
- In a small pyrex, mix together the maple syrup, hot water, and juice of one of the lemons (preferably the one you already zested). Using a basting brush, brush a thin layer of this glaze all over the turkey.
- Blanket the turkey in a layer of the thick cut bacon, securing in place with toothpicks. Lace sprigs of rosemary into the bacon blanket. Brush a thin layer of the maple glaze over the bacon layer.
- Slice the remaining lemon into quarters. Stuff lemon wedges and remaining rosemary into the turkey cavity. Tent the entire turkey in tin foil.
- Place turkey in the oven. Check the turkey every half hour, and brush with the maple glaze re-tenting when done. After the first hour, remove the the tin foil. The turkey should cook for approximately 15-20 minutes per pound.
- In the last hour of cooking, check and baste the turkey every 15 minutes. In the last 15 minutes, check every 5. At the very end, thrown it on broil for 5 minutes to get the bacon very crispy.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, and set turkey on a large cutting board to rest. Remove rack from the pan (and any vegetables you may have put in there as well).
- Take the roasting pan, and place it over two burners, set to medium heat. Using a whisk, scrape up all "flavor bits" that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan. If you have any leftover glaze, pour that in as well. When the pan drippings start to bubble, whisk in the cassava flour. I use approximately 1/4 cup, but you may need more (depending on the amount of liquid in the pan). You may also want to add chicken broth, if you don't have enough liquid. Whisk vigorously until gravy has thickened to desired consistency. Carefully pour through a strainer, into a gravy bowl.
You can add in some baby carrots to the bottom of the roasting pan, and serve those as a side.