Tom: Is that bacon on your turkey leg?
Ron: They call it a Swanson.
For several years now our Thanksgiving main dish has been turkey wrapped in bacon—independent of our enjoyment of Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson character—but in fiction food retrospect, it's the perfect fit. I'm sure Ron would love to have the whole bird anyway. And more bacon (his #1 favorite food). So I give you the "Whole Swanson" in honor of thankful, woodworking carnivores everywhere.
Note: I cook this bad boy in a slow cooker (because it's easy & juicy) with carrots & onions underneath (multitasking) but you can definitely roast the turkey (by itself) in the oven. Simply follow your normal turkey baking process, only, wrap that bird in bacon! Instead of using a whole bird for this recipe, you can also cook just a turkey breast (that's what we're doing this year. Less innards & such) for less time. I'll edit this post after Thanksgiving with pictures & details on cooking only a breast.
The Whole Swanson (Bacon Wrapped Turkey)
Whole Turkey OR Bone-in Turkey Breast, thawed, small enough to fit in your slow cooker
1-2 pouches Powdered Onion Soup Mix
1 pkg. Bacon
Stuffing of Choice (optional if cooking a whole turkey)
1 bag Baby Carrots
1 Large Onion, cut into chunks
Large Slow Cooker
1. Thaw the turkey completely & remove the innards & neck (if going the whole turkey route). Rinse the turkey in the sink, drain, & pat dry with paper towels. Cut away any excess skin (like the stuff that is way just hangin' around & would be just too much. Or keep it. Whatever floats your boat). Place the turkey on a large plate or in a huge bowl & rub the onion soup powder both under & over the skin until the turkey is nicely coated. Next, put your desired stuffing into the cavity of the turkey (optional if cooking a whole turkey. You could even shove an onion &/or a cored apple in there). Wrap the baker's string around the turkey in a few places. Slow cooking tends to make meat fall off the bone, so the string will keep the bird together for the most part. (For the whole turkey, go for 3 pieces, wings, legs, & middle).
2. Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray. Place your baby carrots & onion chunks in the bottom & then nestle the turkey on top. Make sure you're able to close the slow cooker. If not, remove some of the carrots & onions from the bottom & tuck them around the sides of the turkey. Wrap the bacon strips all over the top & sides of the turkey, covering all exposed parts. Secure the lid on the slow cooker & cook on high for 1 hour, & then turn to low & cook for about 6-7 hours (whole turkey) or 5-6 hours (turkey breast) or until the bacon is no longer pink & the turkey skin is a nice brown. You can check for doneness after a few hours by cutting into a thick part of the turkey & if the meat still has pinkness to it it's not done! (I don't own a meat thermometer but it should read about 165°F in the thickest part.)
3. Turn off the slow cooker & transfer the turkey to a platter. Put the carrots & onions in a serving bowl. Remove the baker's string & let the turkey sit, uncut, for about 15-20 mins to cool.
Tip: If you think your bacon bird is not crispy or brown enough, before cutting the strings, place the turkey in a roasting pan & broil it for a few minutes until it looks how you'd like.
Suggestion: You can make the remaining bacon/turkey juices into gravy by pouring them into a pot or pan on medium heat & whisking in a few tablespoons of flour, a little at a time, until it thickens & becomes paste-like. Slowly pour in water or broth until you reach your desired gravy consistency.