A fried or roasted turkey is kind of a big deal on Thanksgiving Day. There are plenty of ways to spruce it up and make heads turn, but by far, the best is to create drunken beer and bacon turkey.
There’s a lot you can do to enhance flavor and attractiveness and transform your turkey from mediocre to magnificent. Here are some steps we like to take.
What You Will Need
- Thanksgiving Turkey (thawed out and ready to go)
- 3-4 carrots, peeled
- 3-4 Celery stalks
- 1-2 onions, peeled and quartered
- Fresh holiday herbs bundle (sage, rosemary, thyme)
- 2 Heads of garlic
- 1 lb of bacon (longest slices you can find)
- 2 tbsp Roasted garlic and herb seasoning
- 1 bottle of beer (we’ve tried Octoberfest, Killians, Yeungling and even bud light)
- A roasting pan with a roasting rack
- A food-grade thermometer
Prepare Your Turkey
From creating a compound butter to weaving bacon strips and stuffing it with aromatics, we will walk you through the process.
The amount of time you will cook your turkey in the oven depends on how much it weighs. So, take a look at this excellent butterball calculator that will tell you exactly how long your turkey needs to roast in the oven based on weight. These calculations are specific to a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven.
The very best way to ensure you have cooked your turkey to a safe internal temperature is by using a food-grade thermometer. Always use a thermometer to check your turkey before deeming it ready and fully cooked.
Place your turkey on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Elevating your turkey on a rack promotes even cooking, which is essential for such large poultry.
Rub Your Turkey with Seasoned and Herbed Butter
Rubbing your turkey down with homemade compound butter is an essential step to making a flavorful roasted turkey. It adds delicious savory flavor, but it can brown your turkey faster if you are cooking at high temperatures.
Mix a stick of room-temperature butter with about two tablespoons of roasted garlic and herb seasoning (whichever brand you prefer) and a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs.
Using a clean hand, carefully separate the skin of your turkey from the meat, then slide in some of your herbed butter and rub it all over the meat. Do the same right over the skin. Then add your weaved bacon lattice.
Craft a Bacon-Wrapped Lattice
People love bacon-wrapped foods, but it doesn’t have to end at scallops, chicken, and shrimp. That’s right; you can wrap bacon over your large turkey bird too.
Weaving long bacon strips on your turkey creates a gorgeous crispy outer layer, and eliminates any brining or basting needs. Not only does a bacon-wrapped turkey look stunning, but the salt and fat-filled pork bacon add tremendous flavor.
If you can make a lattice pie top, then you can weave bacon onto a turkey. Wrap long pieces around the wings and legs. Also, be sure to add water or beer to your turkey pan, which provides steam and helps cook your bacon slowly. We will talk a little bit more about that soon.
After the bacon starts to crisp (or after your turkey is cooked about halfway through), remove the bacon. Stuff it right inside of the cavity with the rest of the aromatics. That way, the skin of your turkey will begin to brown nicely too.
Add Colorful and Flavorful Aromatics
Aromatics make for the perfect fragrant touch to any roasted turkey or chicken. There are a few ways to add these flavor and color boosters, but you are more than welcome to try both.
Quarter two small onions and wash a few carrots and celery sticks, then stuff them right inside the cavity of your poultry. Add a few sprigs of herbs, like thyme and rosemary as well.
You may also dice up some mirepoix and place it on the bottom of your roasting pan (under the roasting rack). This will improve the flavor of the gravy later too!
Enhance Your Turkey with a Bottle of Beer
We’re pretty sure the beer talk earlier caught your eye, so here’s the scoop. Adding liquid to your roasting pan is a sure way to keep the oven moist and ensure your turkey is super juicy.
You are more than welcome to use water as this is the traditional liquid used in this cooking process, but come on—beer.
Be sure to baste your turkey with the beer and turkey drippings every hour or so. Once your turkey is fully cooked, remove a few cups of the liquid and keep on the side.
Think about it this way. You’ve got beautifully placed bacon strips, dripping flavorful grease over your turkey, and into your mirepoix filled beer and turkey drippings. You can’t compare the results that turn into a rich and intensely flavored gravy later on. It’s a tried and true method that will wow your guests every. Single. Time.
Dazzle it up with Fresh Herbs
You can usually purchase a bundle of fresh holiday herbs in the produce aisle around this time of you. They typically include fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary. This blend makes for the perfect earthy touch.
The fresh herbs are used in several ways. First, to create the compound butter, we talked about earlier. They are also used inside of your turkey along with your carrots, onion, and celery. Don’t forget to add some chopped herbs at the bottom of your pan.
Save a few sprigs and leaves from your fresh herbs to garnish your carved turkey right before serving.
Roast a Few Heads of Garlic
Another easy trick is to add at least one or two heads of garlic into your roasting pan. Slice the top end of the head of garlic off so that the cloves are all showing. Place your heads of garlic in the corner of your roasting pan.
After several hours in the oven, you will have superbly roasted heads of garlic just waiting to be added to everything. Remove your garlic once it’s softened and put aside to allow for it to completely cool.
Once completely cooled, squeeze out the roasted garlic into a small bowl and add it to cooked vegetables, or mashed potatoes.
This step is crucial; be sure to save a few tablespoons of roasted garlic. Mash the garlic and add it to about a half a cup of turkey drippings.
Drizzle your Extra Pan Drippings on the Carved Turkey
Once your big bird is out of the oven, be sure to let it rest for at least twenty minutes. After your turkey has been carved, right before serving, drizzle the garlic and beer-infused pan drippings right over the sliced turkey.
The beer, bacon grease, natural herbed, and aromatic turkey drippings with a roasted garlic infusion all make for the best turkey ever. That’s what we call maximum flavor and juiciness.