Someone passed me an amazing photo last Thanksgiving of an oven roasted, Bacon Wrapped Turkey and it looked amazing. I personally love smoking my Thanksgiving bird, and who can say no to bacon, so I decided to wrap a bird with a bacon weave, throw it in my smoker, and Voila, I have created my favorite new Thanksgiving tradition!
Step 1: The Bacon Weave
First, get yourself about 2 pounds of bacon in order to make the bacon weave. I won't bore you with the steps to create a weave, there are plenty of sites that can give you the rundown. They are really simple to make, and have plenty of uses... like my grilled Breakfast Fatty that I will post up here one of these days!
Step 2: Wrap the Bird
After your bacon is weaved, and your bird is prepped (Gizzards, neck, and plastic thingamajig removed) feel free to rub your Turkey down with a spice rub if you choose, or let the bacon and the smoke do the flavoring for you. I made a mixture of some of my favorite poultry spices and lightly seasoned the skin.
At this point, carefully pickup the foil holding the bacon weave, center it up, and flip the foil over so that it covers the turkey. You can carefully move the weave around once it is placed, but try to get it pretty close to perfect when you flip the foil. Next, make sure to cover as much of the exposed skin as possible with bacon. I cut slices in half and wrapped them around the legs, and along the side of the bird where the weave didn't touch.
Step 3: Smoking Your Heavenly Creation
How you smoke the Turkey really depends on the type of smoker you have. I have a large double barrel smoker with an offset smoker box, but I have smoked plenty of turkeys on bullet smokers, kettle smokers, and even gas grills. No matter which type of smoker/grill you have, just make sure you are heating your turkey using the indirect method. If you are new to smoking, Google "indirect smoking" to learn how to do it properly.
The choice of smoking wood is really up to you. I have used fruit woods and oak in the past, and I have really enjoyed them all. I choose to use Apple Wood chunks for this turkey and it turned out great. If you get into heavy flavored woods like Mesquite, it might be a little too much unless you really like a smokey punch. I also exclusively use Hardwood Lump Charcoal for my smoking rather than briquettes... not that there's anything wrong with them. As long as you aren't using lighter fluid, or pre-soaked briquettes, you will be fine.
If your only choice for smoking is a propane grill, set it up for indirect grilling, and get yourself a cast iron smoke box that you can rest on top of the active burners in order to create your smoke. If you don't have a Cast Iron smoker box, you can also wrap soaked wood chips in tin foil, poke a few holes, and lay it on the burner, it works just as well.
Step 4: The Hard Part... Waiting It Out!
I smoke my turkeys between 225-250 degrees depending on the size. If you have a really large turkey, 18-20+ pounds, I would suggest aiming for the higher 250 temperature. If you go too slow with a big bird, it has more opportunity to collect bad bacteria which would ruin your post meal Tryptophan nap!
Once your smoke is rolling and the lid is closed... DON'T OPEN THE SMOKER! Thanks to the bacon, and the slow method of smoking, there is no reason to baste your turkey, therefore, no reason to open it up... not even to take a peek (although that's exactly what I did for the second pic ;) Keep that heat inside and only add more charcoal/wood when necessary. I would also suggest that if your smoker doesn't have a water pan, add a small foil pan somewhere in your smoker with some water in it to help keep the moisture level up inside the smoker.
Now, you just need to wait it out. Go do something else - like weaving more bacon!
Step 5: Be Thankful for Your Feast
Depending on the temperature that you are smoking your turkey, I should take about 25 minutes per pound to finish your turkey. I personally like to pull the Turkey out when the center of the breast reads 165 on the thermometer. I've cooked dozens of turkeys to that temp and nobody has ever been sick, and the meat is incredibly tender and juicy. To be on the safe side, if you are worried about it, cook the turkey so the breast is 175-180. If you go much beyond 180, the breast really starts to dry out and that's not cool bro.
I choose to let the turkey rest for about 15-20, minutes before I carved it up, but if you wanted to make the bacon a little more crispy, I guess you could throw the turkey under the broiler for a minute to crisp it up.
In the end, you should have an incredibly moist, flavorful turkey that will knock your socks off. I think this turkey ranks up there as one of the finest poultry creations known to man, but don't just take my word for it!