Ahhh…reminiscing I am, over Princess Lotties superb Christmas 3 bird roast, aptly named a ‘Partpheasen’, being a partridge in a pheasant in a chook, with layers of a superb sausage stuffing. All accompanied by perfect roast vegetables.
Yes it was Christmas, and yes it was months ago and yes I made myself ill eating so much of it, but with the weather just as wintery now as then, surely there is still a need for meaty festiveness. Does it need to be Christmas? How about celebrating a birthday, or how about a dinner party? Or how about celebrating just having survived this long grim winter. Just think about it is all I’m saying…
…Accompanied by a pile of fresh roast honey parsnip , fennel, and spuds. Spesh!
A huge plate piled high with lush Partpheasen, veg and gravy mmmm…. what a christmas it was.
2.5k Organic Free range chicken
500g of your favourite sausages
250g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
200g dried cranberries soaked overnight
2 leeks chopped, sweated in butter and allowed to cool
1 tsp ground mace
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
15g fresh thyme
500g good smoked streaky bacon, rind removed
To roast: three large carrots, two medium onions – peeled
Needle and butcher’s thread – this is a shiny, food safe cotton which slides easily (regular string will probably work but it will make the job tougher)
• Can all be done at least a day in advance
1. Ask your butcher to bone all three birds. Leave the leg and wing bones intact on the chicken, remove all bones from the pheasant and partridge.
2. Separate one sausage and reserve then remove the skins from the rest. Put the sausage meat in a bowl and add the chestnuts, cranberries and leeks. Mix in the mace, allspice, nutmeg and thyme leaves. Cover and put aside.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C
3. Lay the chicken skin side down on the bench. If you wish you can put a clean tea towel underneath to help with handling later on. Grind on some salt and pepper then smear the stuffing onto the chicken, stopping just short of the edge.
4. Lay the pheasant on top, skin side down. Again grind on some salt and pepper. Smear on the stuffing
5. Lay the partridge on top, skin side down and top with the reserved sausage.
6. Wrap the partridge tight around the sausage and pull up the edges of the pheasant around the stuffing and the partridge. You can temporarily skewer the roll closed if it helps. Using the tea towel if necessary, pull the chicken and stuffing up around the pheasant. Don’t worry if the edges don’t meet exactly.
7. Use about 150cm of thread. Make the first stitch at the vent end of the central line. Only pull half the thread through and don’t fix the end. Take large stitches, about 3cm apart, and at least 2cm back into the skin on each side and work toward the head end. Leave the stitches loose at first. When you get to the head end, tuck in the flap and stitch tightly across the neck hole.
8. Using both hands, massage the bird vigorously to redistribute the stuffing into the shape you want. Starting at the head end, pull each stitch individually tighter as you work the stuffing into place. Thread the needle back onto the tail end of the thread and pull it tight. Stitch across the vent end and tie off.
9. Use your choice of stock veg to make a trivet in a big roasting tin. Place the bird on top, sutures down, season, drape bacon over the breast and top with a tent of foil.
• Timings are for combined birds weighing 1.8kg – you may need to cover with foil until the last hour if you dare to cook a heavier version.
10. Place in the oven; chances are you won’t have much choice of shelf but near the middle if you do. Roast for 20 minutes per 500g plus an extra 40 minutes. After half an hour drain off fat and juices with a bulb baster or a small ladle. Put these in a glass bowl and allow to separate.
11. Using the bulb baster, extract the juices from beneath the fat you’ve drawn off and put them in a small pan. Add about half the quantity of either verjuice, orange juice, soy sauce, port or the cranberry soaking liquid and reduce to about half. Begin basting the bird at 15 min intervals with this glaze. Remove the foil for the last half hour. (We didn’t use foil at all due to the light weight of our bird).
12. The only safe measure to ensure the meat is cooked is to use a probe thermometer which should read 70°C “at the thickest part of the meat” – a truly ridiculous suggestion when you’re dealing with a solid poultry log as thick as your thigh.
13. Allow at least half an hour rest under a/the foil tent before even considering cutting. It will easily stay servably warm for an hour and will only improve so here’s another place you can gain a bit of flexibility in scheduling.
14. Slice across the middle to gasps of admiration and serve it forth
Recipe adapted from Tim Hayward.
The fabulous Princess Lottie in action, complete with festive chrimbo cracker crown.