Cider-Brined Turkey with Grape and Pancetta Stuffing
It’s a showstopping festive turkey roast with a seasonal twist
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
- 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
- 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.
- Discard neck from turkey and place in the container. Refrigerate overnight.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.