Cam's Bacon-Wrapped Turkey (With Giblet Gravy) Recipe
For the Turkey:
* 1 Turkey, 14-22 pounds and COMPLETELY THAWED OUT BEFOREHAND (should be obvious but this is apparently a common screw-up)
* 2 Pounds of bacon, uncooked (if you have a smaller bird you may only need half that)
* 2 or 3 Apples, chopped in medium-large chunks
* 2 or 3 Onions, also chopped in medium-large chunks
* 5 or 6 Celery stalks, chopped in 3-4 inch chunks
* 1 Large bulb of garlic, all cloves separated and peeled
* 4 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (what the hell, regular olive oil works fine too)
* Sage, 1 small bunch chopped (if you don’t have fresh sage, dried sage is an ok substitute)
* Kosher Salt & Pepper, whatever you feel is a modest amount
For the Gravy:
* Giblets from turkey
* 1 Onion (small/medium size), peeled and quartered
* 1 Large carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
* 3 or 4 Celery stalks, cut in large chunks
* 1 Small parsnip, peeled and cut in large chunks
* 3 or 4 Garlic cloves, peeled.
* 2-3 bay leaves
* 1 Teaspoon of Thyme
* 2 Teaspoons of Sage
* 3 Tablespoons of corn starch
* Take out the giblets bag and neck and such from inside main cavity and/or neck cavity of the turkey, and put it into a medium sized pot with the vegetables set aside for the gravy. Fill with about 5 cups of cold water, add bay leaves & sage & thyme, and simmer this on low for the entire time you're prepping and cooking the turkey.
* Rinse the turkey with lukewarm water (or cold water if it will be a little while until you put the bird in the oven), and dry with a paper towel. Put the bird on the rack in your roasting pan.
* Mix the olive oil, chopped sage, and salt & pepper in a small bowl. Then give that bird a good rubdown of that mixture on the outside and then the inside of the turkey cavity. Leave any of that extra fat and skin around the cavity on the bird so it can add to the drippings (fat adds to the flavor!).
* Loosely stuff the cavity with all the chopped apples, half of the onion and garlic cloves, and a little bit of the celery. Spread the remaining you can put on the bottom of the pan under the turkey where it will cook and mix with the drippings. Tie up the turkey’s legs/drumsticks together with twine, or that turkey leg-cuffs doohickey that sometimes comes with the bird. The turkey should be breast-side up, with the wings tucked underneath the turkey.
* Drape the bacon slices across the turkey. You can lay the bacon strips more or less in parallel rows that overlap each other slightly. You can also lay the bacon criss-cross fashion on the bird if you like, though this would require more bacon than the first option. Ensure the breast of the bird is particularly well covered. For the legs, wings and sides of the bird too, lay the bacon in rows or wrapping around the parts as appropriate, using the wooden toothpicks to secure it as necessary. You want to cover the top and sides of the bird, leaving only the cavities and bottom of the turkey bacon-less.
* Heat the oven to about 400 F.
* Put your meat thermometer in the inner thigh. It should be deep in the inner thigh, but without coming into contact with bone.
* Pour a little water in the roasting pan so water covers all the metal on the bottom, but isn't high enough to touch the turkey on the roasting rack. If you're in a dry climate, you may need to add a little more while the turkey is still cooking.
* Cover the bird loosely with aluminum foil, so loosely that it barely touches only a few parts of the turkey. You can leave a little space so you can see the thermometer, but since the foil won’t be on the whole time it’s not really an issue.
* Put the turkey in the oven, and then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Basting the turkey is unnecessary; the bacon and olive oil do just fine for keeping it moist, and IMO it's better to maintain a more constant temperature in the oven. As for cooking time, the 20-21 pound birds usually are done in a little bit more than 4 hours, but there are many cooking time charts like this one (http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/howtocook/primers/turkey_stuffingandroasting) where you can get a reasonable estimate based on your bird's weight. These times are just guidelines though, and it's the internal temperature that will tell you when it's done.
* Take the foil cover off about 2/3 of the way through the anticipated cooking time (about an hour and a half before the estimated cooking time ends). This is just so the turkey and the bacon can get some color. If the bacon or turkey skin already looks pretty dark, keep the foil on longer.
* When BOTH the thigh meat and the breast meat reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (typically the inside of the thigh takes longer), take it out of the oven. Tilt the turkey so some of the juices drain into the roasting pan, then put it on a platter or grooved cutting board that won't let the remaining juices leak over the side. Take that foil you removed earlier and loosely cover the turkey with it, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes while you make the gravy or attend to any other cooking tasks that need doing (like drinking a cold beer!). The internal temperature will continue to rise well above 165 degrees (a very reasonable threshold of 'doneness') as the turkey sits.
* Remove the bacon and the toothpicks. The bacon will be really crispy, almost crumbly in texture. Use the crumbled up bits to mix into the mashed potatoes (if you like), and put the rest on the side of the turkey for people to snack on. Prepare to see some competition for who gets the pieces of turkey skin, because that bacon grease just does something wonderful to the taste of it.
Finishing the gravy:
* Take the vegetables and garlic out of the turkey cavity, and put them in the roasting pan with the rest of the vegetables (throw away the apples from the cavity). Pour the drippings and vegetables into a large strainer over a pot, and use a masher to squeeze the juices out of the vegetables and through the strainer into the pot. Discard the vegetables and solids from the strainer.
* Take the pot with the simmering giblets and vegetables and pour the stock, giblets, and vegetables into the strainer over the same pot with the turkey drippings. Use the masher to squeeze out the juices like before, then remove the giblets and vegetables from the strainer (you can save the neck; it has a fair amount of meat on it). Bring to a low boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or so.
* Mix the corn starch with an equal number of tablespoons of water, and with the gravy just barely simmering (not boiling) slowly stir in the corn starch & water slurry into the gravy. Turn off the heat. If you want a thicker gravy, feel free to add more corn starch & water.