Barbechoo’s Bacon Wrapped Turkey Crown with Cranberry Bacon Jam
We are delighted to have UK BBQ enthusiast James McKay back on the Thermapen blog to present this sweet and succulent barbecued turkey recipe. James shares recipes and guides to barbecuing on his YouTube channel, as well as his blog barbechoo.com.
There’s a well-known saying in the BBQ community which goes something like this… ‘EVERYTHING is better with Bacon’ and this turkey crown is no exception. This is the perfect festive recipe if you are cooking for a smaller family or if you just want to practice roasting your Christmas bird on the BBQ. I’ll share a few tips to help you pack some flavour into the meat and most importantly – keep it beautifully moist.
Not only does the Cranberry Bacon Jam taste amazing with your Christmas Day Turkey – it is an absolute game changer for those boxing day turkey and ham sandwiches.
1 Turkey Crown
10-12 rashers of Streaky Bacon
BBQ Rub, to season (Plowboys Yardbird)
1 Sprig Rosemary
For the Cranberry Bacon Jam
1lb streaky bacon, cut into cubes
1lb onions, thinly sliced
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup beef stock
½ cup cranberry juice
Approx. ½ cup dried cranberries
The turkey crown is the breast of the bird including the rib cage. Unlike the legs, the breast is very lean which means it requires some precise cooking to avoid drying out. The first part of the story is to work on flavour. We are using a BBQ rub for this crown as it is perfectly balanced for poultry. Adding the rub on top of the skin will give a beautiful colour and great tasting skin however those flavours will not penetrate the meat.
To get around this, we are going to pull back the skin and apply the seasonings directly onto the flesh. Use your fingers to get underneath the skin and tease it away from the meat, being careful not to puncture in. You do not want to remove the skin completely, so I’ve always found it best to leave it attached along the breast bone. Cover the breast meat with a generous coating of BBQ rub. I used the Plowboys Yardbird rub but you can use any rub that is designed for poultry.
After you have applied the rub, gently stretch the skin back over the breast to cover it. You can use some metal skewers to secure it in place and ensure it doesn’t shrink when cooking.
We are covering the turkey crown with a bacon weave. Not only does this look great for final presentation, but the fat in the streaky bacon will render throughout the cook, basting the crown. A bacon weave can be a little bit tricky to put together, but it is well worth the effort. You will need to judge how many slices of bacon you will need based on the size of your crown. If you need to see how the weave is put together then you can check out the video at the end of the recipe.
When the weave is complete, transfer it to the crown and cover it. Lastly, tuck a sprig of rosemary into the bacon weave and your crown is ready to be roasted. I roasted my crown on the BBQ using the indirect cooking method. You should aim for a cooking temperature of 170-180C.
Another important tip is to place a drip tray below your crown with some boiling water in it. As the crown cooks, the water will turn to steam and surround the bird which helps prevent it drying out. Roast the turkey crown until the temperature in the deepest part of the breast meat reaches 74C. Cooking to this temperature ensures the bird is fully cooked and safe to eat, but you haven’t overcooked it and dried it out. This is the perfect time to take the bird off the BBQ, wrap it in two layers of foil and put it to one side to rest for 30 minutes.
That should give you enough time to prepare the Cranberry Bacon Jam. If you are worried about being under pressure on Christmas Day, you can make the jam a couple of days in advance – it will be just as good.
Pre-heat a cast iron skillet with around 1 tablespoon of oil then fry off your bacon. Allow the bacon enough time to become golden brown and it should also have rendered a lot of it’s fat. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the skillet, leaving the fat.
Next, add your sliced onions to the bacon fat and sauté them until they become soft and translucent. Sprinkle in the light brown sugar and stir to coat the onions. Once the sugar has dissolved and formed a caramel, add the remaining liquid ingredients along with the bacon and the dried cranberries.
Allow the Jam to simmer for around 20-30 minutes. As the liquids start to cook down, the jam will start to thicken. As the jam cools, it will continue to thicken so it is a good idea to remove it from the heat when it still has a slightly saucy consistency. Place the Jam into a food processor and blitz to your desired texture. Whether super smooth or rustic and crunchy – I promise you it will taste amazing.
By this stage, your turkey crown should be well rested so carve it up and serve, knowing that it is perfectly cooked and safe to eat. I highly recommend cooking a double batch of Jam as it works so well on sandwiches and even cheese boards. I hope this gives you the confidence to try your Christmas turkey on the BBQ this year. If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help you on my social media.