Roast turkey with a bacon lattice
- December 2023
- Serves 4-18 (depending on the size of your turkey)
- Hands-on time 20 min. Oven time 3 hours 10 min to 5 hours 40 min, depending on the size of your turkey
You can never have too much bacon at Christmas, and dressing your turkey with a bacon lattice does a valuable job: it imparts flavour and helps prevent the breast drying out. See the Tips and Know-how sections below for advice on choosing and preparing your turkey, plus how long to cook it for (based on its weight).
Recipe taken from Ginger Pig Christmas Cook Book by Tim Wilson and Rebecca Seal (Mitchell Beazley £25) and tested by delicious.
Get prepping for the big day with our make-ahead Christmas sides.
- 34g (11g saturated)
- 0g (0g sugars)
- 18 streaky bacon rashers
- 1 turkey (see Tips and Know-How below for advice on choosing and preparing your turkey, plus how long to cook it for, based on its weight)
- Salted butter for rubbing on the turkey
- Make the bacon lattice about 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook. On a clean surface or board, put down a large piece of baking paper (this will make it easier to move the lattice when complete) and lay 9 rashers of bacon vertically and snugly together on it, with the fat on the right-hand side. You may need to gently pull and stretch the rashers to the same length to ensure they lie closely together and there’s enough coverage (especially if using a large turkey). Fold down the top ends of rashers 2, 4, 6 and 8, making enough room for a rasher of bacon to fit horizontally and form the top of the lattice square. Lay the first horizontal rasher across the top of the unfolded rashers on the board. Return the folded-down ends of the rashers to their original positions, covering the just added horizontal rasher and creating the first weave of the lattice. Lift up the bottoms of rashers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, which previously remained on the board, and fold them upwards to the point where they meet the first horizontal rasher. Place a second horizontal rasher across the rashers that remain flat on the board, making sure to keep it snuggled up close to the first horizontal one. Replace the lifted rashers, then lift up 2, 4, 6 and 8 to put a third horizontal rasher beneath the second. Continue lifting alternate vertical rashers, placing each horizontal rasher close to the last before replacing the lifted rashers. Repeat until you’ve used up all the rashers and have a neat square of streaky bacon lattice.
- Heat the oven to 200°C fan/gas 7. Rub the turkey skin with plenty of butter and pepper. Gently lift the finished lattice onto the breast. Using 2 very long sheets of foil – use more than you think you’ll need – make a big tin foil cross shape inside a roasting tin large enough to fit the turkey. Put the turkey in the middle of the foil cross, then wrap the foil around to make a loose but closed parcel.
- Roast the bird for 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150°C fan/gas 3½, then cook until ready, depending on its size (see Tips). Baste the turkey every 45 minutes or so, working quickly so the turkey doesn’t cool down, and keeping the oven door shut to retain heat. Uncover for the last 30 minutes to crisp the bacon or, if you prefer, move the bacon to a tray so the turkey skin can crisp up too.
- If you don’t have a meat thermometer (see Know-how if using one), stick a long skewer in the fleshiest part to test for doneness: the juices should run clear. Rest the cooked bird for 30 40 minutes while you finish preparing your side dishes.
What size turkey to buy and how long to roast for
At The Ginger Pig butchers, turkeys are classified by size as follows – choose the right cooking time for your turkey’s weight, weighing the bird after you’ve added any stuffing.
Roast for 40 minutes at 200°C fan/gas 7, then turn the oven down to 150°C fan/gas 3½ and cook for:
Mini 4-5kg (feeds 4-6) 2½-2¾ hours
Small 5-6kg (feeds 6-10) 3-3½ hours
Medium 6-7kg (feeds 10-14) 4 hours
Large 7-8kg (feeds 14-18) 4½ hours
Extra large 8kg+ (feeds 18+) 5 hours
If you want crisp skin, don’t wrap the turkey in foil while it rests, as the resulting steam will make the skin soggy.
When working out your timings for the day, give yourself about 30 minutes to prepare the turkey. Take it out of the fridge 1-2 hours before it goes in the oven. This is important to ensure even cooking – if the centre is chilled, it might not cook through. Then allow at least 30 minutes resting time, plus an extra 30 minutes or so leeway on the cooking time, in case it needs a bit longer.
A meat thermometer is the best way to check whether a turkey is cooked. Officially, it should reach 74°C, but that can result in dry meat. As long as you’re cooking a good-quality high-welfare turkey – Ginger Pig birds are reared by the Botterill family in Leicestershire – and you rest it for at least half an hour (during which time it will carry on cooking), and as long as it reaches 68°C for at least 3 minutes in the thickest parts of the meat (deep in the breast,
at the thigh-body joint and the leg-thigh joint), any nasties should be dealt with.
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