Chefs' Recipes

Jock Zonfrillo's roast turkey with native herbs and spices

Give the Christmas classic of roast turkey an Australian twist with this recipe by Orana chef Jock Zonfrillo.

By Jock Zonfrillo
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 3 hrs 30 mins cooking plus brining, resting
  • Serves 8 - 10
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"Using native ingredients is my preference, but native thyme could be replaced with regular thyme, and the myrtle with bay or curry leaves," says Jock Zonfrillo of Orana in Adelaide. "Adding water to the pan produces a humid cooking environment so the bird remains juicy. After it's cooked, you're left with the beginnings of a spectacular sauce."
Start this recipe a day ahead to brine the turkey.


  • 1 free-range organic turkey (about 6kg)
  • 1 cup cup finely grated citrus rind (3 tbsp each pink grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange rind)
  • 8 lemon myrtle leaves
  • 8 aniseed myrtle leaves (see note)
  • 1 tsp mountain pepper (see note)
  • 7 large black garlic cloves (see note)
  • 24 sprigs native thyme (see note)
  • 200 gm sea salt flakes
  • 55 gm (¼ cup) brown sugar
  • 3 large potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • 50 gm (¼ cup) duck fat, melted
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) Madeira
  • 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
  • Fried saltbush (optional; see note), to serve


  • 1
    Remove legs from turkey and pat dry (your butcher can do this for you). Crush citrus rind, myrtle leaves, mountain pepper, 3 black garlic cloves and 8 thyme sprigs with a mortar and pestle (or pulse in a blender) until fragrant. Mix in salt and sugar, and crush until thoroughly combined and salt starts to change colour.
  • 2
    Transfer a quarter of the salt mixture to a zip-lock bag large enough to hold turkey legs, add legs, seal and massage mixture into legs. Rub remaining salt mixture all over and inside turkey crown in a large bowl, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, adding any salt mixture from bowl. Refrigerate to dry-brine (12-15 hours).
  • 3
    Rinse turkey, pat dry with paper towels and bring to room temperature before roasting (2 hours).
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 130°C. Toss a third of the potato with 1 tbsp duck fat, 8 thyme sprigs, 2 black garlic cloves and 250ml water in a flameproof roasting pan. Set turkey legs on a wire rack and place on top of potato, and roast until cooked through (2 hours). Set pan aside.
  • 5
    Increase oven temperature to 190°C. Place remaining potato, thyme, black garlic and 500ml water in another roasting pan. Rub turkey crown with remaining duck fat, place on a rack on top of potato mixture and roast until internal temperature reaches 50°C (30-40 minutes; insert probe into thickest part of the breast), then return legs to oven (reserve pan) and roast until breast meat reaches 65°C (10-20 minutes), skin is golden, and legs are dark golden. Set aside to rest (30-45 minutes).
  • 6
    Drain liquid from trays into a saucepan (discard potatoes; the starch released helps the sauce thicken). Place the tray that held the legs over high heat (it will have more caramelisation from longer cooking). Deglaze pan with Madeira, scraping base, pour into saucepan and simmer until sticky (6-8 minutes). Add the stock and simmer until reduced to your liking (20-25 minutes for a thin gravy).
  • 7
    Meanwhile, reheat turkey in oven at 190°C (10-15 minutes). Cut breasts off, slice and serve with legs, gravy and saltbush.


Native herbs, spices and saltbush are available from specialist greengrocers and farmers' markets. Black garlic is available from select supermarkets and grocers.
Drink suggestion: Australian sparkling shiraz. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.