Maple-Glazed Turkey

A juicy turkey seasoned with sage butter and maple syrup, and topped with bacon – we’re making a whole maple-glazed turkey today!

You may be thinking, Allison, it’s the beginning of October, it’s a little early for turkey don’t you think?

But if you’re wondering that, then you may not realize that Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October!

And can I just note how amazing it is to be in such an interconnected world? The internet may be trash sometimes, but without the web we’d all be so much less likely to be exposed to cultures and countries outside our own.

But thanks to the internet, I’ve been introduced to new foods and holidays and cultural norms… such as my Canadian friends celebrating their Thanksgiving a month before ours!

And… since it’s Canadian… what’s more appropriate than a maple-glazed turkey?

If you’ve been keeping up with our videos then you may have an inkling of what’s coming up soon… but if not, I’ll keep it a surprise!

Let’s make our turkey!

Step 1: pretend this chicken is a turkey, because it’s October! And I’m in California! And I can’t find a reasonably priced turkey that will fit in my teeny tiny oven anywhere! Have you seen the size of my oven? There is NO way I could fit a 14lb turkey in there.

We want the skin to dry out a little so it has a better chance of crispiness. So put your whole turkey/chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, breast-side up, and let it sit out at room temperature for an hour.

Also, make sure you remove any giblets or neck that came with the turkey – there’s usually a bag inside the body cavity. Although… are you even a real cook if you haven’t accidentally cooked the giblets bag at least once? I definitely have. Unfortunately this chicken didn’t come with ANY giblets. I feel cheated!

While your bird is coming to room temperature, mince some fresh sage leaves. This is what will give it that really “Thanksgiving” smell – it’s floral and earthy and almost pine-scented. Stir that into some room temperature butter that we’ll be using to slather our turkey, and then season that with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Before preheating (although let’s be honest, I regularly forget to do this ahead of time and always end up hanging a hot rack on our pot rack – say that five times fast) put the oven rack in the bottom third of your oven so your turkey will fit, and remove the top rack. Now, preheat your oven to 350F.

Before we butter ’em up, liberally sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper, and use your hands to rub it both inside and out so as much as the turkey as possible is seasoned. Really get in that body cavity.

Once your turkey is seasoned, spread the sage butter over the entire turkey. Since it’s butter, it got pretty slippery, so I just tried to dab it on as much of the surface area as possible. Ease your hand under the skin, and slowly pull the skin away from the meat, getting as far under the skin as you can get without tearing the skin itself. Then stuff some of the butter under the skin as well, trying to get an even layer.

Truss the legs with kitchen string. This helps prevent the skin from burning, but also works to keep the meat moist by minimizing the surface area of the bird.

And – since this is a maple-glazed turkey after all – we’re going to baste our turkey with maple syrup that’s been diluted with a bit of hot water. Since the butter is rather precariously attached to the skin, I kind of dribbled the syrup over the turkey, since painting it with the pastry brush would just brush the butter right off. Don’t worry about using all the syrup, as you’ll be basting several times as it cooks.

And now it’s time to cook! Since I’m using a small chicken instead of a big turkey, my timing is quite a bit different, but I’ll give both times just in case.

Either way, expect to be cooking your bird for about 13 minutes per pound. My 4lb chicken only took a little over an hour to fully cook, but a larger 12-14lb turkey may take closer to 3 hours or more.

Every so often, baste your bird with more maple syrup. For a larger turkey you can do this every half hour, but for my small chicken I did it every 15 minutes.

When about 2/3 of the time has passed (so for a larger turkey, after 2 hours; for our smaller chicken, 45 minutes), take the bird out of the oven, and lay strips of bacon over the breast. Since our chicken was starting to brown quite a bit, we also put bacon over the legs and wings… because more bacon is always a good thing.

Baste the bacon-covered bird with the maple syrup again.

If you have an oven-safe meat thermometer, then insert that in the meatiest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, and put the turkey back in the oven. I just tested the temperature every time I took it out to re-baste.

From here, you’re cooking the turkey until the temperature hits 165F. Continue basting every half-hour. If the bacon is fully cooked before the turkey is done, you can cover it with foil so it doesn’t burn.

When the temperature hits 165F and the juices run clear, remove your bird from the oven! Tilt the turkey so all the juices run out into the pan – Shrimpy will be using that for gravy next video.

Then place your turkey on a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let sit for half an hour before carving.

Et voila – we are ready to eat!

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter

adapted from Five Heart Home

  • 1 12- to 14-pound fresh or frozen turkey, completely thawed
  • 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 8 strips bacon
Cooking Directions
  1. An hour before roasting, take turkey out of fridge, unwrap, and remove bag of giblets and/or neck. Place turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, breast side up, to allow it to dry and come to room temperature.
  2. Place oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and remove the top rack. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Stir minced fresh sage into softened butter until well combined. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Liberally sprinkle the turkey, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Carefully slide your fingers under the skin of the breast and drumsticks to lift it away from the meat. Slip spoonfuls of sage butter underneath the skin and gently smooth over the top of the skin to spread out the butter in a thin layer. Repeat everywhere that you can reach under the skin until all of the butter has been used. Truss the turkey legs.
  5. Combine maple syrup and hot water. Use a basting brush to baste the entire turkey. Place turkey in the oven, basting with maple syrup every 30 minutes. If the breast and/or the tops of the drumsticks turn golden brown before the rest of the turkey, shield them with foil. Plan to roast your turkey for about 13-20 minutes per pound.
  6. After about 2/3 of your expected total cooking time has passed, remove the turkey from the oven and insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh (without touching the bone). Baste the turkey with syrup once more and arrange the strips of bacon over the top of the turkey with no gaps in between them, until they cover the entire breast. Return the turkey to the oven, continuing to baste about every 30 minutes. Continue cooking, watching the bacon closely so that it turns crisp but does not burn. If the bacon is done before the thermometer inserted in the turkey reads 165°F, shield the bacon with foil (as well as any other parts of the turkey that are brown enough, which might end up being the whole turkey) and continue cooking until the turkey is done.
  7. Once the temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F and the juices are running clear, remove the turkey from the oven. Tilt the turkey in the pan so that the liquids run out of the cavity. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

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