Stuffed Roast Turkey Porchetta Style

Boneless Turkey leg, rolled with guanciale or pancetta, herbs, juniper berries and garlic, and roasted with onions and balsamic. Perfect for a holiday meal!
olive harvest in Umbria

Hello dear friends, how are you? at Alla Madonna del Piatto we are finally at the end of the season and enjoying the first few days of rest and free time after a very busy fall. It was so busy we did not have time to pick our little bit of olives. Nevertheless we have had 2 Olive Harvest Tour groups who enjoyed a variety of experiences of the Umbrian countryside. We made sure to include plenty food, olive oil and wine tasting as well as meeting some of Umbria’s extraordinary food artisans like our new friends at a wonderful saffron farm.

saffron blossom in Umbria


Fall is mellow and warm here right now, with the woods clad in golden and red. For us, it’s time for walks, for naps and for good comforting food to share in peace around the table.


I know you will appreciate an Umbrian twist on turkey at this time of the year. It is called “in porchetta” because is seasoned in the same way as the roast pig commonly sold in Umbria as street food.  I have made various versions of this recipe, using also boneless chicken legs or turkey breast.

same recipe made with boneless chicken legs

To be honest, while breast is easier to obtain, the results are often less brilliant than leg. The white meat becomes easily dry and, no matter how carefully you season it, it is less tasty.

The secret of this recipe is to season and roll the meat at least one day in advance and don’t skimp on salt. This way the meat will have time to absorb the aromatic rub and become flavorful and tender.

For the herb rub:
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • a handful of fennel fronds
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
For the turkey roll:
  • 1 boneless turkey leg, 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds
  • 60 g (2 oz) guanciale or pancetta  thinly sliced
To bake:
  • 4-5 shallots, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon white vinegar or balsamic
  • 1 teaspoon  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt per lb meat
  • 4 pork sausages (optional)

Make the herb rub

Removing any woody part from the herbs, then in a food processor, blend herbs, lemon zest, garlic, pepper, juniper and a teaspoon of olive oil until chopped finely.

Prepare the meat

Before stuffing, place the meat on a cutting board and beat it flat with a meat pounder or other heavy object.

Sprinkle the meat with salt on both sides, then  spread the herb mixture over the turkey.

how to make a stuffed turkey roll

Arrange the slices of guanciale over the herbs.

turkey stuffed with guanciale

Beginning with the side nearest you, roll up the slice, gently pressing on the filling and making sure it does not  slip out from ends.  Tie the roll crosswise with string at 1.5 cm (3/4-inch) intervals, then tie one or 2 times lengthwise.


Transfer the turkey roll into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. The salt will tenderize the meat (it’s a dry brine) and infuse it with the flavors of the herbs.


Place the turkey in a roasting pan with  the whole peeled onions or shallots. Add  sausages if using. Sprinkle the roll with brown sugar and drizzle with vinegar and one tablespoon olive oil.  Roast in preheated oven at 220 °C (430 °F)  turning every 15 min. until golden and crispy, about 45 min to one hour. Add a little white wine or water if the juices become too dark. You might need to remove the sausages and onions if they are ready before the turkey roll  and put them back for 5 minutes or so to reheat.

Fabulous  with:

Potatoes in a salt crustbalsamic peppers, cime di rapa.

Serves 4



  1. Wow, this looks fabulous! Some people complain that turkey is “boring” but I bet they’d change their minds quickly if they tried this… And yes, I’m a “leg man” myself. So much more appealing than the breast, although this treatment would probably bring out the best in the breast meat as well.

    • Thank you Frank, if it was for me bird breast would all end up in polpette and quick scaloppine except duck which is the only one worth cooking for a better dinner!

  2. The recipes looks and sounds spectacular…can’t wait to try it…Going tiny daughter’s fir thanksgiving but I may try this recipe as part of my Christmas dinner …Happy Fall and Happy Holidays..

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. We are trying this for Thanksgiving this year. Will let you know how it turns out. Thank you@

  4. I Am looking forward to try this recipe using the boneless chicken legs…Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you Peace and health for the New Year.


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