Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey & Bacon-Infused Gravy

Thanks for stopping by today!  All week long, we’ll be talking Thanksgiving eats around here.  Today we’ll focus on the main bird, but the rest of the week will be devoted to … desserts, desserts & more desserts.  Maybe a side dish or two, but really, we love making desserts healthier around here, so that’s where we’ll spend most of our time!

Last year, we tried something new with our Thanksgiving turkey: self-basting it with bacon. 

It’s amazing, and makes the most wonderful gravy. 

You can bet we’ll be doing this again this year, especially because we’ve now found a great source of nitrate free bacon. 

Tips for cooking a turkey

(1) Get a large roasting pan; disposable ones are just fine.
(2) Place said roasting pan onto a cookie sheet for added stability – especially important if using a tin-foil roasting pan.
(3) If you buy a frozen turkey, plan enough time to thaw in your refrigerator.
(4) Don’t forget to peek inside the turkey to make sure that the package of goodies is removed before you cook the bird.
(5) Have a meat thermometer – stick it into the white meat and check that it has reached 180 degrees.
(6) Don’t stuff the bird with stuffing… place herbs (e.g., sage, rosemary) & onion.   

Note: Alton Brown has a fantastic set of videos available all about cooking your turkey.  You can check them out here

Thanksgiving Turkey & Bacon Infused Gravy


  • Whole turkey, preferably organic
  • 6-8 strips of bacon, preferably nitrate free
  • olive oil
  • poultry seasoning
  • sea salt
  • crushed black pepper
  • paprika


Taking your thawed turkey, rinse it under cool water & pat dry with paper towels.  Place the turkey in the roasting pan.  We often place it breast-side up {see below}.

Tuck the wings in, so they don’t stick out.  If you leave them sticking out, they’ll get overly crunchy & potentially burn while the turkey cooks.  I don’t both pinning them in, just tuck them in tightly against the body of the bird. 

Spread olive oil over the top of the bird.  Sprinkle with paprika, poultry seasoning, sea salt & pepper.  Be sure to season in the cavity of the turkey too. 

Layer raw bacon over the top of the bird. 

Alton Brown told me to put the turkey in the oven legs first, so that’s what we did last year. 

To nicely brown the turkey, start the bird out for 30 minutes in an oven heated to 500.  Then, reduce the heat to 350 & put a piece of foil over the top of your turkey (especially the breast).  Cook at 350 for an additional 2 hours (for a 12-14 lb. bird).  Continue cooking until the inside of the turkey (remember, stick that thermometer in deep to the breast) reaches 180 degrees. 

Since the bird has those slices of raw bacon, as the bacon cooks it will continue to baste the turkey.  No need to open the oven (which only slows the cooking process) to baste since the bacon does it for you! 

Remove the turkey from the oven when proper temperature is reached.  Then, allow the bird to sit for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile…. make the gravy!

Bacon-Infused Gravy

We make our gravy with corn starch so those who are GF can enjoy it too!  If you wish to make it with flour, you can – just double the amount of corn starch used. 


  • Pan drippings
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 T corn starch


Pour off the pan drippings into a large skillet.  Alternatively, if you use a metal roasting pan, you can make the gravy right in that pan.  Begin to heat these pan drippings over medium heat.

Combine 1/4 C cold water with 2 T corn starch and whisk until a smooth mixture forms.  Very slowly, add this corn starch mixture to the drippings, stirring constantly.  Once the two are combined, increase the heat while continuing to stir.  Stir until the mixture begins to boil and thicken.

Got lumps?  If you stir consistently, you shouldn’t have lumps – but if you do, simply strain the gravy before serving & no one will know! 

*Note: It’s a good idea to have hand soap present in the kitchen while working with raw meat.  Make sure also that your raw meat does not come into contact with cleaned dishes and/or counter space that you are sharing with foods you’ll eat later.  Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap & carefully clean any surfaces (including the faucet handle!) that may have come into contact with raw meat. Food safety is a high priority!

Linked to: Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday (2), Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Works for Me Wed.


  1. This is definitely how we are cooking our turkey this year! My bacon-loving husband cannot wait!

  2. I'm going to have to try this! Thanks for posting this :)

  3. This is awesome and totally safe for my son, yay. He loves bacon and we use the nitrate free too. We usually cook our birds "upside down" as well and it's always very moist.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Why have I never thought of putting bacon on my turkey? Genius!

  5. This proves that bacon really does make everything so much better :) I am totally going to have to do this to my turkey this year, we are a bacon loving family :) Stopping by from Tasty Tuesdays.

  6. Awww, too bad I just finished my turkey, lol! I will try this with the next one:)

  7. Bacon makes everything better! What a great way to do a turkey, thanks!

  8. Mmmm I will be attempting this recipe for my first ever turkey! If I'm only cooking a 7.5/8lb bird though, will it make enough drippings for the gravy?

  9. @ Brittney,

    I think you'll have enough for gravy. If you want more -- add in a little chicken broth when you make the gravy.

  10. Where do you find nitrate-free bacon? Brand name? Thanks.

    1. Costco! Coleman brand --


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

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