Serves a Crowd

Bacon Bird With Turkey Neck Gravy

by:
September 20, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

When we were kids, my stepmom 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, just adjust the amounts and times accordingly—this is your bird! —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

This is one of best, most foolproof recipes for turkey and turkey neck gravy and is not intimidating or complex in the slightest. First the turkey is stuffed with apples, onions, sage, and marjoram. After arranging sage leaves on the turkey, you then encase the bird with strips of bacon. The most awesome part is that encasing the turkey with the bacon means that the basting is being done for you. You need to check it once or twice, but the whole process is pretty hands-off. No need to cover the pan either with the bacon doing most of the work. The developer also suggests to pull the turkey at around 165°F because it will continue to cook as it rests, so be sure to have an instant-read thermometer handy toward the end of the cook time. Serve some of the bacon as an appetizer before kicking off your holiday meal, or keep in on hand for breakfast the next day. Bacon truly does make everything better, doesn't it? And this recipe is kid-friendly too, as the alcohol cooks off, so no need to worry about that.

Making the gravy is easy as well. Simply whisk the flour into the butter, then whisk in some chopped sage and milk. Add the turkey drippings little by little until you get the perfect taste and consistency. Simply stir in the chopped turkey neck (and maybe throw in a little extra bacon while you're at it), and your most delicious gravy is ready to go. 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

Watch This Recipe
Bacon Bird With Turkey Neck Gravy
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves 1 (14-pound) turkey
Ingredients
  • Turkey
  • 1 (14-pound) turkey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 8 sage leaves, plus 1 leafy sprig
  • 3 sprigs marjoram
  • 1 pound thick sliced bacon (you won't use it all, but when is extra bacon ever a bad thing? I use applewood smoked)
  • 1 (250-milliliter) bottle dry white wine
  • Gravy
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage
  • 1/2 cup (or more) milk
  • 1 cup (or more) turkey or chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brandy (or sherry for a sweeter gravy)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Turkey
  2. Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. I only use the neck for gravy, but if you want to add the giblets too, go for it. Rinse the turkey inside and out. Generously season the inside with salt and pepper. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and tuck the wings behind the head (or where the head used to be).
  3. Cut the apple into quarters, remove the core, then quarter each quarter. Peel the onion and cut into similar-sized pieces. Place the sage sprig, the marjoram, and a few hunks of apple and onion inside the bird. Tuck a bit of apple and onion under the neck skin. Scatter the remaining apple and onion around the pan. Place the neck in the pan too.
  4. Generously season the turkey with pepper, then with salt—the bacon adds salt, so don't go too crazy. Arrange the sage leaves across the breast and on each leg. Lay strips of bacon all over the turkey to encase; you may need to trim some of the bacon to cover—don't forget the legs and wings! Pour the wine into the pan. Bake for about 3 hours.
  5. You can now mostly relax—the bacon is basting for you. Check now and again, and if it's getting too dry, add some water to the pan. Once the bacon has cooked completely, 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 continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F. My turkey took just under 4 hours. Let cool slightly.
  1. Gravy
  2. Pick the meat off the turkey neck and chop. You can also chop some of that crisp bacon if you want.
  3. Pour the drippings from the pan into a separator—I use a baster to make the transfer.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until a little golden. Whisk in the sage. Slowly whisk in the milk—it's going to get super thick, don't worry. Whisk in the broth and brandy, and the gravy will relax again. 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 okay)—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! Stir in the chopped turkey neck (and giblets and bacon, if using) and stir until warm. That's it! Carve the turkey and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Susanna
    Susanna
  • cookinginvictoria
    cookinginvictoria
  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
  • Melissa Case
    Melissa Case
  • Yogigirl
    Yogigirl
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 https://www.etsy.com/shop/AbbiesGarage?ref=search_shop_redirect

81 Reviews

Susanna November 22, 2021
Wow. I am not making a whole turkey for Thanksgiving this year, but I’m going to try this soon with a whole chicken. Sounds fabulous.
 
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.
 
Yogigirl 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)
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/AlcoholCooking.htm
*
Alcohol Substitutions in Cooking
http://whatscookingamerica.net/alcoholsub.htm
*
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):
http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/roast-a-turkey#section_577

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.

Delicious.

See http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com/2012/12/29/malta-maple-bacon-jam/
 
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.