'Bacon' Brined Turkey (or Chicken)




Just in time for Christmas - but you can use this method any time - for turkey or chicken ((or TURDUCKEN, duck,  dodo, goose, crow, albatross etc))

There's nothing new about brining poultry - it makes the meat so moist and tasty.  Likewise, there's nothing new about 'barding' your bird with some bacon on the breast to give the outside a bit of baconey flavour.

This instructable combines the two ideas, and both tenderises and moisturises the meat and adds a hint of (smokey) bacon right through.  We came up with the recipe for last Christmas (being the distributor for J&Ds BaconSalt in UK) and it was really great!

This Christmas my daughter and her (American) family are spending the holiday here in MurkeySide, so we're going to show them that Brits can do at least as well as our Transatlantic Brethren when it comes to turkey-cooking!

Step 1: Ingredients & Equipment

Oven (obvious, but you could use the BBQ in Summer)
Roasting tin with grill rack to fit inside
Meat thermometer (I like to be safe!)
2 'Oven bags' or 'Ziplock' bags - each big enough to hold the turkey
Container to put the bird and bags in whilst brining (see step 2)

Turkey - the recipe is for a bird about 4.5kg (10 lbs) but the brine ingredients below can be scaled for larger/smaller.  Don't buy a self-basting one for this method.
100gm (4 oz) Brown Sugar
50 gm (2 oz) Salt
5 tsp of BaconSalt **  (we prefer to use the Hickory or Applewood flavours, to give a smokey flavour)
1 Small bunch Fresh Thyme (or dried)
1 Bay Leaf
6 or 7 cloves of garlic, halved horizontally
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
1 Lemon, halved
Water - about 2.5 litres (5 pints) but see next step.
Optional - Black Lemon Powder, a little more brown sugar, and Olive oil for a 'rub'

**  Baconsalt is a low-salt spice blend that adds bacon flavour to foods.  It can be found in a number of USA stores, and can be bought online mail order from:
www.baconsalt.com  in USA  $4.50 per 2-oz shaker-jar, plus shipping
www.crazy4flavour.co.uk in Britain or Western Europe  £3.95 per jar including postage
The optional black lemon powder is also sold by crazy4flavour.

Step 2: Making the Brine

Defrost the turkey thoroughly if frozen.  Remove the turkey from its wrapping, and any giblets etc from inside the bird.

Put the bird in one of the bags and fill the remaining space with water.  Then drain the water into a measuring jug, to estimate the amount of brine needed.  Once you've measured it, throw the water away.  Return the bird to the refrigerator while you prepare the brine.

Step 3: Making the Brine

Scale the ingredients according to the amount of water - the ingredients list is based on 2.5 litres of brine.

Put the same amount of water (or a little less if you are going to cool the brine with ice) into a steel or enamelled pot, and add the rest of the brining ingredients, and heat slowly on the stove while stirring until the ingredients, until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

COOL THE BRINE!   The brine should not be warm when adding to the turkey.  I add a tray-full of ice to the measuring jug, then add another tray to the pan - stirring both until the brine is cooled.  Or you could just cool it in the fridge.

Step 4:

Double-bag the bird, then add the cool/cold brine, close the bag removing as much air as possible, and either place it in a bowl (to ensure that any spillge/leaks don't end up in the fridge, or put it in a cool-box, with cooler blocks. 

Allow the bird to soak for 8-10 hours whilst keeping cool.  Turn every few hours to make sure the brine contacts all of the bird

Step 5: Preparing to Cook

In the sink, remove the turkey from the brining bags, and throw away the brine (don't try to re-use it!) and the bags.

Stand it on a large plate and allow it to drain in the fridge (or cool-box) for an hour or more, turning it ocasionally to drain all or most of the brine from inside the cavities.

Pat it dry with some kitchen towel, then rub all over (underside as well) with Olive Oil. (see 2nd pic)

Fill the cavities as you normally do (or not!).  I prefer to cook the stuffing separatley to have it 'crispy', and I put a couple of large onion in the large cavity to keep the shape of the bird. (see pic)

OPTIONAL - use the Black Lemon Powder, the brown sugar, and some Virgin Olive Oil to make a rub to coat the outside of the turkey (like in the third picture).

There's a recipe for BaconSalt stuffing at crazy4flavour.blogspot.com/2008/12/baconsalt-stuffing.html
  if you want to go the whole "hog"!!!

Step 6: Cooking

We use a roasting tin with a rack in the bottom - to keep the meat from sticking to the roasting tin, and so that we can keep a layer of water in the tray which keeps the humidity high in the oven.  You'll get better results by cooking breast-side-down for the first 30 minutes to an hour, then very carefully turn it breast-down (I use a tea-towel to hold it while turning) for the rest of the time.

You'll need to wrap bits of it (wings, neck end of breast . . . ) in aluminium foil part-way through to stop them burning when they are fully-done. (2nd pic)

Baste frequently and add a little water as required.

Preheat the oven to 165C (325F) and cook.  Approximate times are:
5kg, 8 to 12 pounds, 2 3/4 to 3 hours
6 kg, 12 to 14 pounds, 3 to 3 3/4 hours
7 kg14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
add an extra half hour if you stuff the bird (we use a couple of whole onions)

But don't leave it to chance - ALWAYS use a meat thermometer!  The breast must reach an internal temperature of 76C (170F) and the thigh must reach an internal temperature of 80C (180F).

Check the temperature frequently, and add more water to the base of the roasting tin if the water's getting low.

Step 7: Carving

I'm no expert at this - my family will confirm that.  Out of shame I'm not posting a pic of my carving attempts!  However, the 'extended family' of 8 of uis really enjoyed it, and it was a BIG turkey -  Amanda and I are still working our way through the turkey sandwishes, hot-pot, and there's curry tonight!

I suggest that you take the advice from the British "Turkey Man", Bernard Matthews:

Enjoy your Christmas (or thanksgiving) BACON ROAST TURKEY!

(there's a host of other ideas for using the rest of your BaconSalt on the blog at crazy4flavour.blogspot.com/, as well as other products sold by www.crazy4flavour.co.uk/)



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    15 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Robin - Us Brits don't "do Thanksgiving", but I can assure you it's great!
    We'll be using it again at Christmas (when we "do turkey"), but it's also a great way to cook the humble chicken too.

    Brits (or anyone in Western Europe) can get BaconSalt from cray4flavour.co.uk, while in USA you can buy it at many stores including Wallmart, or by mail order from baconsalt.com.




    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Believe me, we DON'T need my advice on carving here - I can cook okay, but my carving is awful!

    Bernard Mathews owns a lot of turkey farms and is a household name in UK. His carving techniques are on video id you follow the link


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm afraid that pictures of my carving would not be too attractive - I never get it quite right! There's lots of expert advice and step-by-steps on the internet, but why not Bernard's.

    (BTW - Julie's eggs on your pickled egg recipe look teriffic - all yolk!)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes the eggs are good. Bernard also produces/d those nasty turkey-rolls and other processed things, then there were those news stories concerning bird-flu & necessitated mass killings...? The carving tips are fine of course.

    The method you've got sounds very good, but it could to with pictures of the things & steps to see.



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    What more pictures would you ike to see?  I thought we'd covered everything 'visual' that was needed.  Have pity - it's our first instructable, so more experienced advice always welcome!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The things you did, sugar, salt, herbs etc. the stages, more like this in composition. The visuals look better if they've not been lifted off someone else's website (well usually...)



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    As you can see from above, plans have changed!  Our local "Lidls" (European) supermarket has Turduckens (so wifey tells me), so we're going to bacon-brine that and I'll post a full set of new pictures.

    As the Turducken is 'off-bone', I'll even be able to post my carving!!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Sadly, the ad Amanda saw was for Aldi's, not Lidl's, and the 'turducken' turned out to be turkey and duck only - plus a large quantity of stuffing  :(  The chances of me successfully boning-out a turkey, a duck, and a chicken, and having something looking good, are slim to zero (as already noted regarding my skills with a knife!)

    So it looks like we are back to the Turkey plan (shame, because I'd have liked to try the turducken but I don't think they are available, ready-made, over here in UK).  I'll post more pictures then.



    9 years ago on Step 6

    My meat always cooks horribly on the underside when I use my tin + rack combo. I keep doing it because I'm pigheaded about change and because I find it makes it easier to clean the pan afterwards (baked on skin is scour-tastic), but I wonder if I'm really the only person with this problem. My other pan is Pyrex, which also heats things quicker from what I notice.

    Might be worth mentioning that you might expect to have to cook longer if you have your bird/roast on a rack over water. I went spazz on my roast pork last night because I forgot about this problem. My vegetables were all cold coz I judged the roast timing wrong :/

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I've not noticed a lot of difference and I use this technique often, for various joints of meat. I think the fact that water (team) cooks quicker than air probably makes up for the cooling effect of having water in the tray.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    A couple of the images were lifted of MY website (!) but I did 'borrow' a couple of others.  However, as I said before, we're cooking this again next week and I'll take some more pictures and update this Instructable.

    I'll even see if I can carve as well as the Mathews pic - but I've never managed it before!