Bacon-Covered Roasted Turkey

This recipe gives you triple insurance against the dreaded dry bird: You brine the turkey, rub butter under and over its skin, and lay bacon on top. Choose a fresh turkey—and read the label to make sure it hasn’t been injected with a saline or flavor solution—to ensure a juicy and perfectly seasoned holiday centerpiece.

Courtesy of Southern Living Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang, Oxmoor House 2012.

Bacon-Covered Roasted Turkey

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    2 cups medium-flake kosher salt 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
    2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon table salt
    3 tablespoons black peppercorns 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1 tablespoon mustard seeds 6 slices bacon (not thick cut)
    1 (12-pound) whole fresh turkey Garnishes: roasted carrots, fresh bay leaves
    1 cup unsalted butter, softened Kitchen string
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


    Prep: 50 min Total:
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    • 1

      Combine first 4 ingredients and 2 qt. water in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat. Divide liquid between 2 large (10- to 12-cup) bowls; add 4 cups ice cubes to each bowl and enough cold water to make 10 cups of brine in each bowl. Stir until ice melts and both mixtures are completely cool (about 5 minutes).

    • 2

      Remove giblets and neck from turkey, and reserve for another use, if desired. Place turkey in an 18-qt. food-grade plastic container or stockpot. Pour brine into cavity and over turkey, covering turkey completely. Place in refrigerator. Cover and chill 24 hours, turning turkey once halfway through.

    • 3

      Combine butter and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

    • 4

      Preheat oven to 350°. Remove turkey from brine, discarding brine. Rinse turkey well, including cavity.

    • 5

      Starting at neck, carefully loosen and lift skin from breast and drumsticks using your fingers. (Do not totally detach skin.) Rub 3⁄4 cup butter mixture under skin; carefully replace skin. Tie ends of legs together with string; tuck wing tips under. Place turkey, breast side up, on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan; rub remaining butter mixture over skin.

    • 6

      Roast turkey at 350° for 1 hour and 45 minutes, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes during last 45 minutes of cooking. Remove from oven, and lay bacon slices, crosswise, over breast and drumsticks.

    • 7

      Return turkey to oven; roast 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thigh registers 170°, basting every 15 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes before carving. Garnish, if desired.

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