I will gladly admit I love to cook and I will also admit I am pretty good in the kitchen. Thanksgiving is truly one of my favorite holidays simply because I get to spend hours (days really) in the kitchen planning my menu. Starting in October I try new stuffings, cranberry sauces, squash ideas, pies (!!) and my family tells me the favorites.
The one thing I don't mess is the bird. I tend to stick to this recipe adopted from Tyler Florence. I do not include the stuffing in my turkey because I have never had much luck baking stuffing in the bird (something is always off) and I also brine the turkey before.
I love this mainly because the bacon--what doesn't bacon improve?! I also think this is an easy way to prepare the 'guest of honor' for Thanksgiving but I strongly suggest you do a practice run with this recipe if you have never done a bird before. Enjoy!
Maple Roasted Turkey Covered in Bacon
- 1 c salt
-3/4 c sugar
-dried woody herbs like rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (12 to 14-pound) fresh turkey, giblets, neck, and liver discarded
10 strips smoked bacon
1/2 cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons hot water
To brine the turkey, one day before Thanksgiving, take a large gallon container and fill with water and other ingredients and stir. Add turkey and cover. Place in a cool area until the Big Day.
Carefully remove turkey and dispose of the brine mix. Wash off turkey to make sure it is clean. Dry off with paper towels and liberally sprinkle and rub entire bird including cavity with salt and fresh black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack of the oven.
Put the butter and sage in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the turkey breast and slip the remaining seasoned butter under, massaging the breast meat as you go. Truss the bird legs and tie with kitchen twine (butchers will give this to you for free). "Shingle" (think a rooftop) the bacon strips over the breast so it's totally covered. Press down on the bacon so it sticks. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and cover the turkey with foil. Bake.
In a small bowl, stir the maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of hot water to thin. Roast the turkey for 2-3 hours, basting with the maple glaze approximately every 30 minutes. You will want to baste different areas at different times so all gets the glaze. Cook until until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F. About 1/2 hour before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil so that it can brown. The thigh juices should run clear too (this means it is done). Let rest at least 20 minutes before carving.