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Cider-Brined Turkey with Grape and Pancetta Stuffing

It’s a showstopping festive turkey roast with a seasonal twist

Serves: 10

Preparation time: 30 minutes (plus overnight refrigeration)

Cooking time: 3 hours


  • 4kg Lilydale Free Range whole turkey
  • 5 litres water
  • 1 cup rock salt
  • 2 Tblsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 8 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 Tblsp black peppercorns
  • 8 garlic cloves, bruised
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 4 x 330ml bottles pear cider, chilled
  • 50g butter, melted
  • Extra fresh bay leaves, to garnish

Grape stuffing

  • 70g butter, chopped
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 100g sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tblsp thyme leaves
  • 4 ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 300g seedless green or red grapes (or both)


  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock


  1. Take 2 litres of water in a pan, keep on medium heat. Add salt, spices, sugar and thyme until salt dissolves. Transfer into a non-metallic container, stir in remaining water followed by cider.
  2. Discard neck from turkey and place in the container. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. For stuffing, melt butter in a pan. Add onion, pancetta, garlic and thyme. Stir until soft and fragrant. Remove from heat. Once cool, stir in breadcrumbs, grapes and season.
  4. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Rinse brine off turkey with cold water. Pat dry and fill neck and large cavities with stuffing, secure with toothpicks. Tie legs together with kitchen string.
  5. Place turkey on a greased wire rack in a roasting pan. Pour 3 cups water into pan. Brush turkey with melted butter and season. Cover pan tightly with lightly greased foil. Roast for 1 hr 40 mins.
  6. Remove and discard foil from turkey. Roast for a further 1 hr, basting with pan juices twice during cooking, or until turkey is golden and juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a skewer (see note). Carefully transfer turkey to a plate. Cover with foil. Stand for 15 mins.
  7. To make gravy, skim fat from roasting pan, leaving 1/4 cup pan juices. Place pan over high heat. Add flour. Cook, stirring for 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbling and golden in colour. Gradually stir in stock until smooth and combined. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring constantly for 10 mins or until thickened. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove and discard string and toothpicks from turkey. Garnish with extra bay leaves. Serve turkey with stuffing and gravy.

Tip: Add more water to roasting pan if it evaporates during cooking time.

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Our Recipes
Our Recipes