Lemon-Pepper Turkey with Bacon Gravy

Total Time:
4 hr 40 min
1 hr
30 min
3 hr 10 min

8 to 10 servings

  • 1 12 - to 14-pound turkey (thawed if frozen)
  • 4 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 9 slices bacon (about 8 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Classic Gravy
  • Let the turkey sit at room temperature, 30 minutes. Position an oven rack in the lowest position (remove the other racks); preheat to 350 degrees F.

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey; set aside for the gravy. Finely grate the zest from all 4 lemons; combine with the peppercorns and 1 tablespoon salt. Pat the turkey very dry with paper towels. Season the inside with about one-quarter of the lemon-pepper mixture, then rub the rest all over the skin. Cut one of the lemons into quarters; stuff inside the cavity along with the onion, celery and thyme sprigs. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the turkey on a rack set in a large roasting pan and tuck the wings under the body.

  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving the drippings in the skillet. Chop the bacon; set aside for the gravy. Add the butter to the skillet with the drippings and stir until melted, then pour into a bowl and stir in the juice of 2 lemons. Let the lemon butter cool slightly, then brush all over the turkey. Transfer to the oven and roast 1 hour. Meanwhile, make Classic Gravy.

  • After the turkey has roasted 1 hour, baste it with the drippings. Continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 2 more hours.

  • Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before carving; reserve the drippings for the gravy. Stir the bacon into the finished gravy.

  • Photograph by Ryan Dausch

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    This recipe is featured in:

    Top Turkeys for Thanksgiving