Roasted Wild Turkey

The traditional way of roasting a turkey is to set it on its back and lay strips of bacon over the top, to keep it moist. I used to do it myself the same way. But now, I’ve found a better way. When you put bacon over the top, it’ll help keep it from drying out, but if the skin’s on, not much is going to get past the skin. If you like the taste of bacon, why not add some bacon flavor to the meat and get it right up there next to it? And another thing…who decided that turkeys should be cooked breast side up? All the juiciness goes to the back of the bird. So you baste it and baste it, hoping that the basting will somehow make the breast moist. Doesn’t work. What does work is roasting the bird, and that’s any large bird, breast side down.

Here’s a better way to roast a wild turkey…

Roasted Wild Turkey


  • 1 wild turkey skin intact
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 strips smoked bacon diced
  • 1 lemon sliced and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs your choice – minced (or substitute 2 T dried Italian seasoning)
  • 3 carrots whole
  • 3 celery stalks whole
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 medium onion cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 cups dry white wine or chicken broth
  • large piece heavy-duty aluminum foil


  • First, you have to carefully separate the skin from the body without tearing the skin. If you do poke through the skin once or twice, you’re still fine. Start at the neck and put a hand inside, working towards the top of the breast. Feel where the skin connects to the breast and begin working your fingers in between, separating skin from breast. Continue working your hands down the breast towards the back of the bird. Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper.
  • Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with the bacon, lemon, onion, garlic and herbs. Spread mixture in the area you’ve created between the skin and the breast.
  • Place turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan. Arrange carrots, celery, potato and onion under each side of the breast to keep it from falling over. If it still won’t stay up, it’s no big deal. Just flip it over to the other side after about 45 minutes of cooking time.
  • Pour wine or broth into pan and cover pan with foil. Place into a 350 degree preheated oven
  • Depending on the size of your turkey, cooking time will average between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. Remove when breasts are 155 degrees. Allow to rest for 5 – 10 minutes before carving. Legs will not be tender! Remove them and use for soups and stocks.

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