Iceberg Lettuce Salad and…Turkey Time

But it’s not really turkey time is it.

7.5kgs of free-range turkey

7.5kgs of free-range turkey

Since Christmas I have had a 7.5kg (13 stone), free-range turkey in my freezer and while delighting in how I was able to purchase it at cost price, it’s actually started to annoy me because it was taking up 85% of my freezer space.  I was intending to cook it on Easter Sunday but bumped its day in the oven forward to create room for necessities like ice cream.

Hazelnut and parsley and garlic butter

Hazelnut and parsley and garlic butter

I thought Alfie’s birthday lunch would be an appropriate occasion for a meal that’s normally associated with Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

The preparation began on Thursday when I took the heavy bird out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge to thaw out.

Start of the gravy

Start of the gravy

I knew I wanted to serve gravy but it’s always quite stressful to do ‘in the moment’ as there’s so much going on around serving time.  For the first time ever, I made day-ahead gravy.  I roasted vegetables and chicken wings then mashed and bashed everything in the pan and put it on the hob while adding some cornflour.  When it was nice and brown I poured in two litres of water then reduced the mixture by half and strained it.  It went into the fridge overnight and when it came time to carve the turkey I poured it into the pan juices and added a splash of sherry and some cranberry sauce.  Very easy and it took away a lot of last-minute stress.



I decided not to brine the turkey (mostly because I didn’t have a container big enough that I could also keep cold).  Instead I made a hazelnut, parsley and garlic butter that I carefully rubbed under the skin of the turkey to not only flavour it but also help prevent the meat from drying out.



I stuffed the turkey with a mixture of rice, sausage mince, onion, dried apricots, apples, celery and thyme so it was also a gluten-free seasoning.  I made far too much stuffing so the extra was wrapped in baking paper and then foil and put in the oven for the last hour of the cooking time.

Lots and lots and lots of stuffing

Lots and lots and lots of stuffing

I served the turkey with duck fat potatoes that were firstly par-boiled on the stove.  For the last hour of the turkey’s cooking time I put them in the oven and when the turkey came out to rest, cranked up the heat and baked them until they were golden and crispy.

Duck fat potatoes

Duck fat potatoes

Keeping it simple, I made just one salad.  I made the same salad on Christmas Eve and I liked it so much I thought I’d make it again.  With the ice berg lettuce it has wonderful crunch and there’s additional great crunch and texture and flavour from the scattered toasted pine nuts and crispy bacon.

Iceberg lettuce salad

Iceberg lettuce salad

5.0 from 8 reviews
Iceberg Lettuce Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
Iceberg Lettuce Salad with bacon, pine nuts and buttermilk dressing
  • 80gm toasted pine nuts
  • 12 thin rashers of belly bacon
  • 2 iceberg lettuces, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh torn herbs - chives, dill, parsley
  • Buttermilk Dressing:
  • 160ml buttermilk
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • 50 ml mild olive oil
  • 2 heaped tbspns finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Roast bacon on a tray lined with baking paper, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden (about 20 minutes). Set aside to cool, then break into shards and set aside.
  2. For buttermilk dressing, shake ingredients well in a sealed jar, season to taste and refrigerate until required.
  3. To serve, arrange lettuce in a large bowl, drizzle with dressing, then scatter with bacon, pine nuts and herbs.
White and dark meat separated.

White and dark meat separated.

I chose a dessert I could make a day ahead.  When I pulled the turkey out of the freezer I noticed I had so many little bags of frozen egg whites that needed using.  I thawed them out and when they were finally at room temperature, made 32 pink meringues.  You can pipe them onto the trays but I chose the free-and-easy method of dolloping them onto the trays and saved myself the task of cleaning a piping bag.  Of course it was a very hot and very humid day and meringues are best made when it’s cool and dry but you can’t pick the conditions so I just hoped for the best.  The moisture didn’t affect them and they were lovely and dry.

Just out of the oven

Heading for the oven

I joined the meringues together with whipped vanilla cream and served them with berries.  And then realised they were all devoured before I took a picture.

Pink, just because

Pink, just because

Alfie wasn’t at all fussed with his birthday/Christmas lunch but did enjoy seeing his cousins and opening presents.  He went back to school the next day and was awarded Junior Swimming Champion and has had his name engraved on a trophy that stays at the school and given a medal to keep.  He was pretty chuffed as was not expecting to be awarded Junior Champion.

Berry salad

Berry salad

And…thanks so much for all your concern for Miss Arabella.  She is currently still in hospital but on the road to recovery.  She is well enough now to be doing some uni work from her hospital bed so she is doing her best to keep up with her courses.  She is in good spirits.

Recovering well

Recovering well


  1. Good to hear that your daughter is on the road to recovery, Charlie… and what a delicious looking bird (the turkey, I mean!).

  2. That’s a beautiful turkey and accompanying meal. I like the duck fat potatoes and the pink meringues the best. What did you use to colour them pink?

    I’m glad Arabella’s in good spirits and that Alfie enjoyed the presents and having his cousins at this birthday celebration.

  3. Hi Charlie, fell a little behind in reading your last 2 posts, so sorry about Arabella, must of been so hard for you and your family, so glad Alfie was happy about his birthday. Beautiful salad!!

  4. Ooh you are organised with that gravy! So gald the recovery road is in sight.

  5. That is one special birthday meal, Charlie. You’re a hard act to follow. 🙂 You do know how to celebrate, and I think that is a wonderful gift for your family. I am really sorry to hear that Arabella is still in the hospital. I never dreamed she’d still be requiring hospitalization. It’s really obvious that this was a very serious injury, but it’s good news that she’s doing better! Is it possible for you to have a peaceful weekend? I think you need one! ox

  6. YUM… I love the gravy when it is made a day a head as you can scrape lots of the extra fat that rises to the top. I’m glad that Arabella is doing well! Liz xx

  7. I’m just catching up the dramas – poor Miss A I can’t believe she’s still in hospital. That is a fine looking roast dinner though – I’m glad you had extra stuffing because it sounds delicious and it’s always my favourite part of a roast 🙂

  8. You sure are brave to have the oven on for so long to bake a turkey in summer! We’ve often resorted to using the BBQ as an oven in the summer when it’s hot. The dinner does look fabulous, I love the idea of roasting the veg and wings for gravy, although I likely wouldn’t use wings as they are too darn expensive here. Iceberg lettuce got such a bad wrap in the 80’s and I have to agree that it’s so refreshing. I’m going to give your lovely salad a try for sure. Is it customary to have a separate stand alone freezer in Australia as I t is in North America?

  9. The dinner looks absolutely fabulous!!

  10. I am so glad your girl is recovering well. I am certain that mom’s homemade cooking will have her grinning from ear to ear or at least let her look up from her phone… Beautiful turkey and the full and complete meal, if I did not have to cross that big pond between us, I would be over later tonight…Take Care

  11. What a clever idea, making gravy the day before. Since I too have had a turkey taking up room in my freezer for months, I’m absolutely going to follow your example. 🙂

  12. Arabella looks very serious and pensive in that photo! And that first photo made me giggle, I’m not sure why!

  13. I am happy to hear that your sweet Arabella is recovering as she should be.

    A happy birthday to your darling boy.

  14. What a birthday feast Charlie!!! Of course one needs to always have room for ice cream in the freezer, lol…So glad to see that your daughter is recuperating nicely.

    Thanks so much for sharing…

  15. So glad to hear Arabella is doing better and wow – iceberg lettuce and bacon sounds like a totally mouthwatering combo! And Charlie – that gravy looks wonderful too!

  16. I am coming out of hibernation and just catching up. Poor Arabella–hope she is recovered soon. This whole meal looks wonderful, but I am most taken with the hazelnut butter. Wonderful

  17. You are some chef Charlie. Where do you get all that reserve of energy from!! Gorgeous food. I’m glad Ms Arabella is doing better. Hugs.

  18. Every time I think of you looking after the house, a busy 10-year old boy, a husband, a grown son, a daughter in hospital and your blog and other work, I feel SO tired. I’d need this turkey dinner just to cope. 🙂 It’s really lovely. John’s not fond of turkey because his mother’s were always so dry he had to smother it with gravy just to swallow it.

  19. Such a wonderful meal Charlie, and I’m sure the rest of the family appreciated it even if Alfie didn’t 🙂
    I’m so glad to hear that Arabella is doing better. I hope she’ll be home soon and at uni before you know it xo

  20. Studying on the iPhone lol – am glad she is getting better, and that salad sounds awesome, am going to make it maybe tomorrow even. And what a beast of a turkey that was 🙂

  21. So glad Arabella is on the road to recovery … that must have been so stressful for you! Well, the turkey looks incredible … I think I’m going to have to invite myself to your place for dinner!

  22. Great to hear Arabella’s recovery! She looks busy in the hosp :)…That was a huge turkey. You just turned it into a delightful dish!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  23. Hope Miss Arabella got some turkey! Sounds like you did a pretty amazing meal for Alfie’s birthday – and I admire your casual reference to humidity and meringues because my experience of mixing the two gave me heart palpitations! I could imagine a veg version of the salad with tofu bacon being most pleasing for me!

  24. Wow. That is one confronting turkey shot 😛
    But it turned out absolutely gorgeous! Glad A is doing ok 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  25. Got to have your priorities in order, we totally need space in the freezer for ice cream.
    Bird looks great, seals looks delicious and so happy to hear Arabella is doing better. xx

  26. Got to have your priorities in order, we totally need space in the freezer for ice cream.
    Bird looks great, salad looks delicious and so happy to hear Arabella is doing better. xx

  27. Danielle says:

    Congrats to Alfie on his swimming champ trophy and medal! I would have been over the moon with this lunch for my birthday 🙂 Very pleased to hear that Arabella is in good spirits and on the mend.

  28. I can eat turkey any time! Looks like a fantastic menu. Glad to hear that Arabella is starting to feel well again!

  29. it all looks gorgeous here charlie. tho I agree with lorraine that the photo of that nude turkey is a bit risque!:) Love your gravy! and thoses potatoes- divine. and your little meringues – so cute. glad to see Arabella is looking better. x

  30. I used to do a “Thanksgiving in July”. I may have to start that up again. Nothing is better than a beautiful stuffed turkey. Your meringues are gorgeous! So happy Arabella is feeling better. Fingers crossed for an illness free remainder of the year!

  31. So glad Arabella is doing well. I could wish to have been a participant at Alfie’s birthday lunch. What a magnificent feast! Love the flavors you used with the turkey and the stuffing…particularly the choice of hazelnut.

  32. I’m rather behind, have been off the airwaves this past couple of weeks, so excuse the lateness on my commenting. Good to hear Arabella is on the mend, bet she is doing super great now. Absolutely loving your iceberg salad, iceberg is my fave kind of lettuce, so under rated these days, yet so freakin tasty. 🙂


  1. […] made an iceberg lettuce salad with the lettuce cut into wedges, topped with a variety of finely cut herbs, toasted pine nuts and […]

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