Wednesday, May 12

Yak Yak Yak: Five birds in the hand…

- December 13, 2016


Years ago I decided to tackle that culinary treat of a variety of birds, boned and stuffed one inside the other. It was a labour, I was at it for hours, but the reward at the table that night was worth it, well almost, I think I nodded off before pudding.

So when I was offered a pre-assembled one to try last week, I jumped at the opportunity. It arrived by courier in a large chilled package with ice blocks and it weighed about 1.5 kilos, so there was going to be plenty to go around a large group and plenty of leftovers too as I was soon to find out.

The real joy of a product like this is the ease, not only the fact that you can simply place it in the oven, baste it and rest it. Because it is boned it cooks in no time at all. I followed their timings to the minute and they were perfect. So rather then getting up at the crack of dawn on my fake Christmas day as I remember my mother and grandfather doing, it went in the oven two hours before I wanted to serve it, about 90 minutes cooking and of course 30 minutes resting it. As Christmas roasts go it does not get easier than this.

As Christmas roasts go it does not get easier than this

I did of course have a bit of a tinker, I’m that kind of a cook. So to the pan I added a load of topped and tailed, but not skinned, shallots. These added great flavour to my finished gravy and great colour too as the skins both flavour and tint that large, and I mean large, slosh of wine that I added to the pan after the initial 30 minutes roasting time. You do need to protect the birds with a tent of foil but the strips of pancetta keep it fairly moist and the steam from the wine helps with that too.

After roasting the meat gets set aside to relax and the pan deglazed with some decent stock. I like a bit of body to my gravy so I used a little slaked cornflour to thicken, not much, and I squeezed the flesh out of the shallots into the jus to big it up.

My Five Bird Roast came from James Alexander Fine Foods, the free range turkey sourced from Cocklakes Farm. Pheasant, wild wood pigeon and mallard are sourced from local estates within Cumbria and the free range chicken sourced near Penrith. I heartily recommend this delicious and easily dealt with time saving delight. And as a bonus, the right leftovers for great sandwiches!

Last orders 20 December

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