Cookin’ for Christmas

December 25, 2008 · Posted in Cooking · Comment 

I like cooking, and what I like cooking most is large hunks of meat.  Big joints of Pork or Beef are fantastic things to cook when we have friends round and even when there’s just the two of us I’ll get something bigger than needed because it just cooks better.

However Christmas is a little different as it’s traditionally Poultry time.  4 years ago for our first married Christmas I cooked a Goose. I’d never done one before but I figured it can’t be that hard, it’s just a bird.  As it happens there are one or two tricks to getting a Goose right, mainly to ensure that the skin is nice and crispy, but it’s easy enough and we’re having one again this year.

Boxing day this year will be a bit different though.  There’ll be 7 of us for dinner so we’ll obviously need something a little bigger.  I could have just got a large Turkey but I always like to experiment and try new things out. With that in mind I’m building a 4 bird roast.  I’ve done something similar just twice before but with only 2 birds in each.  A Ducken (a Duck with a Chicken inside) and a Phearkey (a Turkey with 2 Pheasants inside). This year I’ll be cooking what we have christened a Duphearkenridge which consists of a Duck (for a nice crispy skin outside) stuffed with a Chicken, a Pheasant and a Partridge.

Each of the two previous times I’ve cooked one of these people ask me how difficult it is.  The answer is that the preparation is more time consuming than difficult.  There are plenty of instructional pages on the Interenet telling you how to debone birds but once you’ve done it you shouldn’t need to look again.  It’s more tricky and a little fiddly than difficult.

You obviously have to be pretty careful with whichever bird is going to be going on the outside as that’s the one that’s got to look good, but life is made somewhat easier as you don’t have to bebone the legs or wings of that one.  The inside birds you can then be a little rougher with a they’re just filling.  You should still get them as whole as possible as it make the rebuild easier, but a few nicks in the skin are fine.

Once it’s all rebuilt you’ve then got to stitch it back together and this is probably where you’ll need some help.  Either that or you’ll need to grow an extra pair of hands.

The actual cooking is then doen to a certain amount of guesswork as you’ve now got a solid lump of meat, rather than a bird with a hollow cavity.  I tend to go off similar cooking times as for joints of Pork but I also use a meat thermometer when cooking these.  The last thing you want to do is cut your magnificant creation in front of your guests only to find out that it’s not done.

A final little tip for the cooking.  As the Duck, in this case, will be exposed to the heat for a lot longer than normal it will have a tendancy to dry out, particularly the lovely crispy skin. The trick here is part way through cooking, lay some streaky bacon over the bird.  This will add some extra fat onto the outside during cooking keeoing things crispy and moist 🙂

More pics of the creation of this years bird can be found here on my Flickr page . . . expect a few more once it’s all cooked and keep your fingers crossed that I get the cooking times right!