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Roast turkey with freekah and pancetta stuffing

Australian Gourmet Traveller Christmas recipe for roast turkey with freekah and pancetta stuffing.

By Emma Knowles, Lisa Featherby & Alice Storey
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 10 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 8
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Roast turkey with freekah and pancetta stuffing
This turkey brings together a traditional brining technique and a modern freekah stuffing. It's great served with sautéed green beans and roast kipfler potatoes. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
For the perfect Christmas turkey, keep these simple tips in mind for best results every time:
It's worth seeking out a free-range bird if you can, ideally one that hasn't been frozen.
If frozen is all that's available, thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, allowing 1-3 days to thaw completely, depending on size.
Bring your turkey to room temperature before roasting, allowing 1-2 hours depending on size.
For a juicy breast (and just-cooked thigh) allow 1 hour 45 minutes at 180C. For a well-done breast and thigh allow 2 hours at the same temperature.
Resting time is essential, allowing the juices to settle. Cover with foil and stand in a warm place for at least 10 minutes and up to 45 minutes.


  • 165 gm (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 185 gm (¾ cup) fine sea salt
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • 1 bay leaf sprig
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 1 turkey (about 4kg)
  • 60 gm softened butter
  • 750 ml dry cider
  • 50 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 300 ml chicken stock
Freekah and pancetta stuffing
  • 350 gm (1½ cups) cracked green-wheat freekah
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 120gm flat pancetta, cut into batons
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 lemons, finely grated rind and juice only


  • 1
    Combine sugar, salt and 8 litres water in a small stockpot over medium heat, stir to dissolve, then add onion, leek, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Remove from heat, cool completely, add turkey, place a plate on top to fully submerge and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180C. For freekah and pancetta stuffing, cook freekah in boiling salted water until tender (10-15 minutes), drain. Spread on a large tray and cool completely. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add pancetta and sauté until golden (5-7 minutes). Add onion and garlic, sauté until golden (5-7 minutes), then transfer to a large bowl. Add parsley, lemon rind and juice and freekah, season to taste, set aside.
  • 3
    Remove turkey from brine, pat dry with absorbent paper, spoon stuffing into cavity, truss legs with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under backbone. Place on a wire rack placed in a roasting tray, rub with butter, add cider to roasting tray, roast until golden and cooked to your liking, basting occasionally (1 hour 45 minutes for cooked breast and just-cooked thigh; 2 hours for well-done breast and thigh).
  • 4
    Remove turkey from pan, cover loosely with foil and rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place pan over medium heat, deglaze with vinegar, then add stock and simmer over medium heat until reduced to sauce consistency (8-10 minutes). Season to taste, strain through a fine sieve into a serving jug. Carve turkey and serve with sauce.


Drink Suggestion: Top-quality grenache blend. Drink suggestion by Max Allen