Serves a Crowd

Bacon Bird with Turkey Neck Gravy

October 21, 2012
1 Rating
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

When we were kids my step mom Jennie made fantastic turkey, wrapped in bacon and roasted to juicy perfection. Jennie is a great cook - following instincts and sense of flavor rather than recipes, and I don't remember her ever making a bad meal. This is my version of her bacon bird - I used a 14 pounder but if you want larger or smaller then just adjust the amounts and times accordingly—this is your bird! —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: aargersi is a Food52er who you may remember from our Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey contest!
WHAT: A subtly smoky bird that is swathed in sage and bacon before being served with a turkey neck gravy.
HOW: Wrap the turkey up in bacon, then the oven does the work for you. Ours roasted for 3 hours, and we removed it when the thigh meat read 160 on a thermometer.
WHY WE LOVE IT: With bacon and a bevy of herbs -- not to mention the onions and apples inside the bird -- this turkey is anything but one-dimensional in flavor. —The Editors

  • Serves 1 14 lb turkey
  • For the turkey:
  • 14 pounds turkey
  • 1 pound thick sliced bacon (You won't use the whole thing but when is extra bacon ever a bad thing? I use applewood smoked)
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 largeish yellow onion
  • 8 sage leaves, plus 1 leafy sprig
  • 3 sprigs marjoram, more to taste
  • 1 pinch Salt and pepper, more to taste
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • For the gravy:
  • 1 cooked turkey neck
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup milk (maybe a bit more)
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken stock (maybe a bit more)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brandy (or sherry for a bit of a sweeter gravy)
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
In This Recipe
  1. For the turkey:
  2. Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the neck and giblets. I only use the neck for gravy but if you want to add giblets too I say go for it! Rinse the turkey inside and out. Liberally salt and pepper the inside. Put him on a rack in a turkey pan and tuck the wings behind his head. Or, where his head used to be.
  3. Cut the apple in 4, remove the core, the quarter each quarter. Peel the onion and cut it into similar sized pieces. Put the leafy sprig of sage, the marjoram, and a few hunks of apple and onion inside the bird. Also hide a bit of apple and onion under the neck skin and tuck it in. Scatter the rest around the pan. Put the neck in the pan too.
  4. Generously pepper the turkey and then salt him too—the bacon adds salt too so don't go too crazy. Arrange the sage leaves across the breast and on each leg (see picture). Now lay strips of bacon all over the turkey so he is encased. I work the long way - you may need to trim some bacon to get him covered (see next picture)—don't forget the legs and wings! Pour the bottle of wine into the pan and pop him in the oven.
  5. You can now mostly relax for about three hours—the bacon is basting for you. Do check now and again and if it's getting too dry add some water to the pan. Once the bacon has cooked completely, it's job is done. Take the turkey out of the oven and remove the bacon. If some of it wants to stick, just leave it. Mostly it should come right off. Remove the neck from the pan and set both aside. Keep the kitchen vultures off the neck—whether or not you let them eat the bacon is up to you. Give the turkey a good basting and put him back in the oven to finish cooking. The common thought is thigh meat needs to be 180—I stop before that (around 165-170) because it will keep cooking as it rests. My turkey took just under 4 hours. When he is finished cooking and golden brown, take him out and make the gravy while he rests.
  1. For the gravy:
  2. Pick the meat off the turkey neck and chop it up. You can also chop some of that crisp bacon if you want to, and if any is left.
  3. Get the drippings from the turkey pan and put them in a separator—I use a baster to make the transfer.
  4. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and whisk in the flour. Cook for a few minutes until it just starts to get a little golden. Whisk in the chopped sage. Now whisk the milk in slowly - it's going to get super thick - don't worry. Start whisking in the broth and brandy, and the gravy will relax again. Now start pouring in the drippings carefully from the separator (try not to get too much of the plain old fat in there - a little is OK)—this is where you add a little, whisk a little, taste a little. Decide if you want more salt and pepper, or maybe a bit more drippings or broth. Get the thickness the way you like it—this is your gravy not mine! Finally—stir in the chopped turkey neck (and giblets and bacon if you want) and stir until warm. That's it! Carve that turkey and serve up!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • cookinginvictoria
  • AntoniaJames
  • Melissa Case
    Melissa Case
  • Caroline Bailey
    Caroline Bailey
  • Raj Madhure
    Raj Madhure
I work in databases by day, but creativity is my outlet. Food - imagining it, making it, sharing it. And art, I come from a family of artists and have been collaging in my garage studio. You can see my work on Etsy in my shop AbbiesGarage

80 Reviews

cookinginvictoria October 12, 2020
I’m making this turkey today for Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s now my favorite way to roast a turkey! Thanks for such a great recipe, Abbie. Hope you are well.
Author Comment
aargersi October 12, 2020
Yay I’m so glad you like it! It’s our favorite too!
AntoniaJames September 8, 2020
After years of spatchcocking or taking apart the bird and cooking ahead (Paul Virant's recipe in the "Genius" collection here), I'm seriously thinking about going roasting a whole bird, this way. (And yes, I'm already planning Thanksgiving. With snow in the forecast later today, I'm getting into the mood a bit early!)
Hope you're well, Abbie. I miss you. ;o)
Author Comment
aargersi September 8, 2020
Hello AJ how are you? It’s never too soon to plan Thanksgiving ! I’m doing it too!
Hallie1 November 5, 2019
Should I cover the turkey with foil too? Or cook totally uncovered? Except for a bacon blanket of course!
Author Comment
aargersi November 6, 2019
Unless the bacon blanket it looking too brown, no need to cover. Kinda depends on how big your bird is and how long roasting time is …
Hope you like it!!!
Amy K. November 1, 2018
Can this recipe work for just a turkey breast? Not the whole bird?
Author Comment
aargersi November 1, 2018
Sure! And if your store doesn’t carry turkey necks try chicken thighs for the gravy!
Melissa C. November 25, 2016
THIS. WAS. AMAZING. I have made Alton Brown's "Good Eats Roast Turkey" for years and it was the turkey against which all others are measured. THIS was unbelievable and the gravy was among the most sublimely delicious things I've ever eaten.
Caroline B. November 23, 2016
Best turkey ever!
tamater S. December 27, 2015
I would love to hear from all the people who did make this Christmas!
We didn't 'do' Christmas this year, after all, so I'm still wondering if it's going to be worth it to buy a bottle of brandy hanging around for, 2 T. used from it 3 or 4 times a year?
Chris G. December 27, 2015
Jesse Mojica & aargersi
Chris' Comments & I hope this does not sound "Snarky" but the "experts say something else about the [email protected]

If you do the web research, almost all the "experts" say there will always be some residual alcohol when you use it in cooking, not just the flavor but some of the alcohol as well! (probably almost all the alcohol in the wine will burn off during the roasting of the turkey..not the brandy, though.
Questions and Answers - Alcohol Burn Off in Cooking (chart included)
Alcohol Substitutions in Cooking
There is a solution to using the brandy: Make two batches of gravy & use the brandy to thin the one batch and turkey/chicken stock to thin the other just prior to serving & put the gravy in different colored bowls!
tamater S. November 27, 2015
This is going to be the Christmas turkey - can't wait!
Raj M. November 26, 2015
Used this recipe for thanksgiving this year. Worked out great. Get most of the flavor of a brine without actually having to do it. Having said that, I think I will brine and follow this recipe next year. Seriously might be the best gravy I've ever had. And my kids devoured the bacon. Was a perfect snack to tide them over until dinner was ready.
alex H. November 25, 2014
Hi- can't wait to make this. When you said it was 4 hours total, did that include the 3 hours with the bacon on it? Or did you do 3 hours with the bacon, take off the bacon, and then another 4 hours?
Author Comment
aargersi November 26, 2014
Hi Alex, 4 total - 3 with bacon and then an hour to finish and get golden - also remember times vary depending on the size of your bird and your oven so check temps as well!!!
Micheline C. November 24, 2014
Im making this on Wednesday...Have looked at several recipes but this one sounds easy and can almost taste the Bacon-Turkey...Fingers crossed I dont mess this up
Jesse M. November 19, 2014
Excited to make this! Just a basic question, does the alcohol cook off?
Author Comment
aargersi November 20, 2014
Hi Jesse! It sure does!
jakestavis November 12, 2014
if i wanted to make this with a 20-22 lb bird, how long should i roast it?
Author Comment
aargersi November 12, 2014
Unstuffed - 4-4.5 hours - Butterball has a chart (I can never remember):

And remember to let it rest, too!
jakestavis November 12, 2014
thank you! made this last year and it was a huge hit, hoping to pull off the same with a bigger bird
Author Comment
aargersi November 12, 2014
That's awesome! I am making it too - I am going to do an apple cider brine first to add one more layer of goodness. My bird is going to be 24 lbs so - yeah, big guy.
Nhlakes X. October 31, 2014
Omg, Can't wait to make this.
LINDA November 24, 2013
I really wanted to try something different this year and can't wait to try this on Thursday! Thanks for the Awesome recipe!
Kitchen B. December 29, 2012
This was an easy recipe to make - the kids and I gathered round the bird and draped it with bacon. Such fun.

But that wasn't all. In a week of Turkey many things, the left over bacon has served a great purpose: Malta-Maple Bacon Jam. No one wanted to eat the bacon, roasted as it was - it was a tad salty (usually we desalt our bacon by giving it a couple of hot-water soaks). Anyways, Bacon Jam had been on my mind for AGES and so it was.

And is.


Esther G. November 23, 2012
Really great turkey recipe. It was so nice to not have to baste but the one time.
VOS November 23, 2012
My 15.5# turkey was done in 2.5 hours. After carving the large parts I did return them to the oven in some liquid just for a minute or two for the joints to be fully cooked. Also, I removed the bacon after one hour so it was still usable for other dishes. Other than that, great recipe.
JadeTree November 23, 2012
We had so much fun with this bird! It was fun to prep; between the bacon wrapping and the bottle-of-wine-pouring, it felt like a holiday indeed. It cooked in about 3.5 hours, almost completely ignored, and the breast was exceptionally moist for the grateful white-meat eaters. Delicious gravy. We used sherry, which is a family tradition, and enjoyed the touch of sweet nuttiness. And it's just as tasty on the sandwich of leftovers, which is a crucial factor. The cooked bacon created two problems, however: it made people swarm the kitchen while we were trying to do the potato/parsnip mash and dressing ,and also one guest overindulged on stolen bacon and regretted a stomach still half full at dinner time. Food52 problems! Thanks for the new turkey for this year's holiday!
Author Comment
aargersi November 23, 2012
I love it! A regular turkey party!!!