So with sides that are so good they’re meals on their own, what do we do to make sure that they don’t completely steal the spotlight?
We make the bird damn amazing, that’s what! Butter, herbs and the not-so-secret ingredient BACON are going to make you a star. Is this bird good enough to end the War?
Yes. Yes it will. Prove me wrong.
Behold the cast of characters! You need a stick and a half of butter, about 1.5 to 2 lbs (around 750g-1kg) of bacon, depending on the size, sage, thyme and garlic (dried and fresh of both) and of course: a bird. This recipe is from Orgrimmar, where we used young Plainstriders, but I’ve seen a Westfall family use a large chicken and this year we used an actual Elwynn turkey, so any terrestrial bird should work.
It was my first time working with turkey and they are a LOT bigger than chickens. Colin took me out to collect a few from a local farmer and they still had some running around and there is something wrong with their heads! Heads don’t look like that! Plus they chased me. It was kinda traumatizing. So I don’t feel super bad about eating them.
Before we start, check for the giblets, any pre-packaged gravy that would be in the chest cavity. There should also be a neck, which is typically tucked under the flappy flesh on the opposite side. Get these out first. It won’t hurt anything if you miss one and accidentally bake it, but of course it’s best to have it out.
Now the first thing we have to do once it’s slaughtered, plucked and all that good stuff, is to separate the skin from the muscle. Wear gloves for this. Honestly, just get disposable gloves cuz we’re gonna be all up in this bird. As you can see from the picture, I didn’t bother with my Ren’dorei disguise. Surprise! I’m not voidy. In case the fact that my girlfriend is a Light-oozing Draenei and I work with the Argents didn’t tip you off originally.
So while it’s viscerally satisfying (ha, look at all these big words I’m using. Sister Anders would be proud) to get elbow deep under turkey boob, I found it’s actually easier to use the back of a spoon. Use the round side of the bowl to get in all the nooks and crannies and the angle will help it pull away a lot easier.
Some people like to salt under the skin, but we’re going to do things a bit differently. I promise, do what I do and the idea of a ‘dry’ turkey will never even cross your mind. Oh, also get your oven going at about 325F/162C.
Once the skin is pulled away, we’re going to mix up some herbed butter. Take just under a tablespoon each of fresh sage and thyme and about a clove, maybe two, of minced garlic. Then combine them with softened butter.
About this much herbs. I seriously just kind eyeballed it, that’s about three large sage leaves and maybe 5-6 sprigs of thyme? Then you mix up all the butter until it looks like this:
Remember that spoon from earlier? It’s gonna get a damn workout today. Stick it BACK under the skin but this time with a hearty glop of the herbed butter. Give it a nice ol’ butterboob by scraping the butter off of the spoon while it’s under the skin.
Then we’re just gonna massage it all over the breast. Get real intimate with it there, if you want this bird to taste sexy, you gotta make it feel sexy. Massage it real good over every inch of breast. Then using the same spoon trick, repeat on the drumsticks.
I figured out if you kinda go at the angle of the hip, you can get into the thigh meat pretty easily. Get that herbed butter all in there, both sides, breast and drumstick.
Now, we could honestly stop here and head on to the next step, buuuuuut I told someone that I was going to do butter-injection as well and I think they’d throttle me if I didn’t. So this step is optional. If you’re terrified of having a dry bird, go ahead and do it. If you don’t want to, it’ll still turn out great.
But let’s be honest, it’s kinda fun too.
SO! Let’s start on this part. Get out your dried herbs. About a half tablespoon each of dried sage, garlic and thyme, and about a teaspoon each of black pepper and salt.
Get an herb grinder of some sort and mix this all into a fine powder. Don’t tell Colin, but I used the coffee bean grinder. I cleaned it out before and after by grinding up some uncooked rice so… There’s your free tip on how to clean a coffee bean grinder.
Fluffy, fragrant powder! Now throw it in with about half a stick of butter and heat it through. You want to melt the butter and also infuse it with the flavor, cuz from experience, you’re not going to get a lot of the actual herbs into the syringe.
But if you heat it through, the butter itself will still have the flavor.
Wait… did I say ‘syringe’??
Yes. Yes I did!
You can get these at a butcher. In the past I’ve used (clean) apothecary syringes, but the ones from the butcher actually have two little slots at the needle to inject into different sides at once.
So you want to angle about two syringes full in a few different injection points. Find the biggest parts of the meat, angle your syringe in, give it a bit of a squirt, find another thick area and rinse repeat. It’s kinda neat, you’ll see the muscle swell up with that deliciousness as you do.
If yours leaks out a bit like mine… Don’t worry, like any good Blightcaller, we’re going to hide the evidence shortly.
As an aside, I was going to brandish the butter-syringe at Vali while yelling ‘FOR THE DARK LADY’ but lost my nerve when I realized she would not at all hesitate to inject me in the throat with my own deliciousness.
Now for the not-so-secret ingredient that will make this thing just insane.
What we’re going to do is layer the outer skin with bacon. Drape it over the breast, like so, until the majority is covered.
Then loop back on itself, down the length and cover the neck piece. It makes it look really nice when it’s done, as well as adding some great flavor. Think of it like making some delicious armor for your battle-bird.
Cut strips in half to drape carefully over the drumsticks, then use whatever is left over to cover the wing tips. I had some left over because I used a full 2 lbs of bacon, so I chopped up the last of it to put in the giblet gravy.
Light yeah, look at that beautiful, bound baby. So pretty.
I didn’t think to get pics of this part, because it was an experiment, but I also took a whole head of garlic, cut it width-wise in half and shoved it into the cavity. I also took some onion and a whole chunk of celery and crammed them into the cavity. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but man, it really infused the breast with a really interesting light, fresh, fragrant flavor. It also flavored the drippings really well.
Oh yeah, baby. That is hot. Mm.
By now, your oven should be preheated. Depending on how big your bird is depends on how long you cook it. DO. NOT. Trust any little discount engineer ‘pop up thermometer’ they aren’t reliable. Even goblin ones.
Especially goblin ones.
For a turkey, you are looking at about 15 minutes per pound (half kilo-ish) of bird. For a plainstrider, the meat is a lot denser so you’re looking at closer to 17 per lb. The bird I’ve been using is 12 lbs (5.5 kg) so I baked it for 2.5 hours, and then started checking it. You want a probe to register 165F/74C in the thickest part of the breast. Check a few places — the thickest two parts of the breast, the thickest part of the thigh, and the drumstick. If in doubt, let it go a little longer. It will be ok, you’ve got enough butter and bacon to keep it from getting dry.
Mine was in for just about 3 hours, to give you an idea. And it smelled just… insane. So insane.
Once done, let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving. Then enjoy the best turkey ever.
- One bird (Young plainstrider, rook or turkey)
- About 2 lbs (1kg) bacon depending on the size of your bird
- 1 stick of softened butter (plus one extra if injecting)
- Sage (fresh and dried)
- Thyme (fresh and dried)
- Garlic (one head for the cavity, minus two cloves for the butter, plus dried)
- Salt and pepper
- Celery (optional)
- Injection syringe (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325F/163C
- Using gloved hands and a spoon, pull the skin from the meat of the bird along the breast and both drumsticks
- Mix fresh herbs with softened butter, plus the two cloves minced garlic.
- Using the spoon, add a big scoop under each side of the breast and drumsticks
- Massage the butter under the skin to evenly coat
- If injecting, combine all dried spices in a grinder and grind into a fine powder
- Combine with melted butter and let heat through to infuse
- Using a syringe, inject the thickest parts of the bird — breasts, thighs, drumsticks
- Cover the entire bird with bacon strips
- Bake for 15 minutes per lb for turkey (17 for Plainstrider) or until the internal temperature shows 165F/74C in the thickest areas
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Have you made any of these Pilgrim’s Bounty recipes? I’d love to know your results!