Serves: 6, plus leftovers for pie
Preparation time: 1 hour, plus overnight dry brine
Cooking time: 2.5 hours
With its rich, meaty and slightly gamey flavour, cockerel makes a delicious alternative to turkey at the Christmas table. Paired with a superb stuffing made in-house by The Butchery Ltd, and an earthy morel cream sauce for a little hit of luxury, this flavoursome bird is sure to impress.
This is by no means a quick, everyday recipe. But if there was one time of the year where you wanted to go all out and fancied pulling together something a little special, this could be one for you.
The Christmas countdown is truly on, with our order book filling up I have to confess a fascination with Christmas food traditions, being a butcher in Britain, but of Australian origins I have seen, discussed and experienced many a meat tradition.
In Australia Christmas Eve was the pub with friends, then Christmas day starts with a surf at the beach before returning to a buffet of cold cuts and fancy salads, very chilled lagers and sparklies. If some one in the family was feeling rich we would have a huge bowl of peel your own prawns and smoked salmon to start the lunch. Usually quite a stress free event with everything having been cooked a day or two prior and each family member bringing some of the meal, costs and stress were spread. Turkey is something that is hardly seen on the table in Oz maybe its something to do with the heat, though Ruth and her Nana had a special turkey, blueberry and mango salad that only came out at Christmas. This was never from a whole bird, a crown or similar would have been cooked before the day. Chicken was often a “BBQ Chook” so no one even had to cook it.
I must say that I am becoming a large fan of the British Christmas meals, there is something about a long slow cooked bird in the oven, all the different stuffings, and the gravy, mmmm I love gravy. Goosefat roasted tatties with roughed up crispy edges and some nice red wine. It’s like the ultimate Sunday roast with all the family. And I do find I always have room to fit in another pigs in blanket. But the climates right here for all that isn’t it, if I was back home I probably wouldn’t be doing it, I would be at the beach !
I do have to say I am proud to see that many of The Butchery’s customers are venturing further than the Turkey, with Goose and Cockerel being especially popular. If you are having cockerel this year see below for cooking tips from the producers. A few weeks ago we did more or less exactly that and it worked out very juicy and tasty. The first two hours were covered breast side down then flipped him over and uncovered, don’t forget to rest the bird whilst you make the gravy etc. For further advice I would be heading to the ever fabulous Simon Hopkinson and adapting one of his chicken recipes or the always reliable Jamie and his Best Ever Turkey and again adjusting cooking times, temperatures (Fosse Meadows Turkeys are actually breed by Paul Kelly, then raised on their own farm in Leicestershire). That recipe holds a place in my heart when it saved me as a seasonaire cook in the French Alps, Never having roasted a turkey in my life faced with four frozen birds, a never before been used oven, non existent French, a chalet full of expectant guests and no shops.
For those of you that are doing Turkey, Nick and Jacob from Fosse Meadows have been slaving over producing delicious and ethically raised ones for you. The Butchery also has all the trimmings options to spice things up. Still time to order if you need. If a Turkey was on my table this year I think it might be brined American style just like the boys are doing. But for us this year will be duck as it is a longtime since we have had a cripsy home roasted duck. If we have the energy to go fancy the inspiration will come from Loose Birds and Other Game, by Andrew Pern, but I think things will be hearty and simple if my record from the last few years is anything to go by, Christmas eve has found me exhausted and asleep in the bath !
Nick from Fosse Meadows took a few minutes away from their hectic schedule between Thanksgiving and Christmas to answer a few questions for us and you.
The Butchery : So what made you move from Peckham to start a poultry farm ?
Nick from Fosse Meadows :The possibility of our own business doing something we loved, and we both enjoyed food, cooking and wanted the outdoor lifestyle farming could give us and I wanted to continue on the family farm. So it helped that my dad was a farmer to get us started.
TB : Why did you choose the Cotswold White and Gold breeds ?
NFM : We chose these breeds because they are a traditional breed (longer in the breast unlike the football shaped supermarket breeds) they grow slower so they don't reach the dinner plate until they get to 77 - 91 days the older the bird the better the flavour and more flavour in the bones afterwards........ DON'T FORGET THE BONES!
TB :Do the different birds have different personalities ?
NFM : Erm not really, boys are more feisty and girls are more 'whatever, I'm in the hedge eating grass don't bother me with your alpha male antics'
TB : What's your cooking tips for a Cockerel ?
NFM: LONG & SLOW ROAST max 150 C we use bay, garlic, lemon and butter/oil for flavour and salt and pepper rubbed into the skin - its simple but delicious
Then the all important Christmas controversy Questions............
TB : What will be on your families table this year for Christmas ?
NFM : I think we're going to try a brined turkey!! One lady took it another stage further by deep frying after brining - sounds wrong but apparently delicious so maybe next year.
TB :Are you a leg or a breast man ?
NFM: leg leg leg
TB : Yes or no to the Parson's nose ?
NFM :only crispy and a recently discovered treat
TB : Stuffing inside or outside ?
NFM : Officially outside, secretly inside...... remember the temperature probe.... yawn
TB:Do you have pigs in blankets with your Turkey ?
So here is wishing you all a fabulously tasty meat filled, stress free festive season and hope to see you down at Maltby St this Saturday or we are doing three days next week 22nd, 23rd and 24th as are most of the other traders.
An Australian butcher Nathan Mills and his partner Ruth Siwinski in London, passionate about real meat from great farmers, butchered with respect and eaten with relish. Remember not all meat is created equal.