Chefs' Recipes

Whole barbecued turkey with buffalo ricotta and blistered grapes

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for whole barbecued turkey with buffalo ricotta and blistered grapes.

By Nick Holloway
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 20 mins cooking plus resting
  • Serves 8
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Whole barbecued turkey with buffalo ricotta and blistered grapes
"This turkey recipe came to be after a very stressful but successful Christmas held in our tiny terrace house in Melbourne for 18 of my wife's family about 10 years ago," says Holloway. "It was our first shot at hosting Christmas, which was a big deal because it had always been a parental stronghold, and we were determined to step it up a notch. On Christmas morning, however, I realised the turkey didn't have a hope in hell of getting into the oven because it was nearly twice its size. But some of the best ideas come on the fly, and I quickly jimmied up the bird and the barbecue and went for it. There were raised eyebrows but I nailed it and have basked in turkey glory ever since."


  • 20 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus one extra clove, halved
  • 600 gm buffalo ricotta, drained (see note)
  • 150 gm Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp lemon thyme (firmly packed)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped oregano
  • 2 tbsp organic lavender tips (see note) (loosely packed)
  • Finely grated rind of 2 lemons, juice of 1, plus 1 extra, halved
  • 1 turkey (about 4kg), butterflied (see note), at room temperature
  • 800 gm small black seedless grapes, such as muscatels


  • 1
    Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add sage and chopped garlic, sauté until tender (2-3 minutes). Cool slightly, then combine in a bowl with ricotta and parmesan. Add herbs, lavender, lemon rind and juice, season to taste, set aside.
  • 2
    Heat a barbecue with a lid to medium heat. Carefully separate skin from turkey meat with your fingertips then stuff ricotta mixture under skin and gently press to distribute evenly. Rub turkey on both sides with cut lemon and garlic halves, season to taste and grill, skin-side down, until golden and crisp (8-10 minutes). Carefully turn, cook until just seared (3-5 minutes), reduce heat to low, place grapes on top, cover and cook until juices run clear when leg is pierced (50 minutes-1 hour; see note). Remove from barbecue, cover turkey loosely with foil and set aside to rest (20 minutes). Carve and serve with blistered grapes.


Buffalo ricotta is available from select delicatessens. If unavailable, substitute firm ricotta. Organic lavender is available from select florists. Butterflied turkey is available from select butchers; you may need to order it. Cooking times will vary depending on your barbecue. Alternatively, you can sear the turkey on a large grill plate and finish it in an oven preheated to 180C.
This recipe is from the December 2010 issue of
Drink Suggestion: Beautiful pale, dry rosé. Drink suggestion by Max Allen