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Brined barbecued turkey with spices and a piri piri sauce

A lidded barbecue is the answer to everyone’s prayers in the heat of summer, and brining the turkey ensures a deliciously tender result.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 20 mins cooking (plus brining)
  • Serves 8
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A lidded barbecue is the answer to everyone's prayers in the heat of summer, and brining the turkey ensures a deliciously tender result. Start this recipe a day ahead to prepare the turkey.


  • Neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil, for blushing
  • Potato salad (optional), to serve
Brined turkey
  • 60 gm (¼ cup) fine salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 small turkey (about 5kg) butterflied
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprig of thyme
Piri piri
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 9 long red cayenne chillies
  • 4 red birdseye chillies
  • 10 gm ginger (about 2cm), finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Juice of ½ lime (or to taste)
Spice rub
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp finely ground black pepper


  • 1
    For brine, stir salt, sugar and 250ml boiling water in a large heatproof bowl until dissolved. Add 750ml cold water, then refrigerate until chilled. Place turkey, skin-side down, in a large bowl or container andpour over brine. Add herbs, cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain well before cooking.
  • 2
    For piri piri, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chillies and 1/2 tsp salt and stir occasionally until chillies start to soften and colour deepens (5 minutes). Set aside to cool. Blend chillies and remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season to taste and refrigerate until required.
  • 3
    For spice rub, combine ingredients in a bowl.
  • 4
    Preheat a lidded barbecue, preferably a natural charcoal barbecue, to medium-high and white coals have formed. Cut off turkey legs and wings, rub all the meat with spice rub, including breasts, then position turkey on the barbecue to avoid direct heat, turning occasionally, until browned well on all sides, (45 minutes; prop breast meat up against the drumsticks to ensure heat reaches all parts of the turkey including wings). Cover with the lid and cook until turkey is cooked through (15-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 72°C on a meat thermometer).
  • 5
    Slice turkey and serve with piri piri and potato salad on the side.