Turkey Bacon

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    4 to 5½ pounds

Appears in

The Bacon Bible

The Bacon Bible

By Peter Sherman and Stephanie Banyas

Published 2019

  • About

The turkey bacon you buy at the store is meant to taste like pork bacon, but it doesn’t, and, quite frankly, shouldn’t. This turkey is bacon because of how it’s prepared, cured, and smoked, not because of how it tastes—juicy, smoky, and a damn good stand-in if you find yourself needing to feed a family of Jews, like most of my family.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon (3.8 L) cold water
  • 1 cup (180 g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt (aka Instacure #1)
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 whole dried ancho chile, stem removed
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 (5- to 7-pound/2.3- to 3.2-kg) whole boneless turkey breast, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • Soaked and drained hickory, apple, or cherry wood chips
  • Canola oil

Method

Combine the cold water, kosher salt, pink salt, sugar, ancho chile, and liquid smoke in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature or cool over an ice bath.

Place the breast in a large plastic container with a lid, pour the cold brine over, and cure in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat it dry with paper towels. Put the turkey on a sheet pan and season both sides with the paprika and black pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour, or up to 4 hours.

Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to between 200 and 225°F (93 and 107°C). Add the wood chips or chunks to the coals. Lay the turkey directly on the grill grate opposite the coals (indirect heat). Smoke the turkey for 1 to 2 hours, to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). (Insert an instant-read thermometer probe into the thickest part of the breast.)

Transfer the turkey to a clean wire rack over a baking sheet and let it cool to room temperature. Tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.

To serve, put the breast on a cutting board, and using a sharp chef’s knife, slice cross-wise into thin slices (see Note). Heat a few tablespoons oil in a sauté pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Bacon will last up to 1 week in the fridge, simply slice off pieces as needed.