Cornish chicken, butter, hog’s pudding and (New Zealand) saffron.
A large percentage of our food shopping is Cornish by default. We shop locally out of principle, because the ingredients are higher quality, tastier, and… cheaper. It was St Piran’s Day–Cornwall’s national saint–last Tuesday 5 March and we wanted to make an extra special effort to buy and eat as near to 100% Cornish as we could that day. I will be blogging about our Cornish shopping basket next. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this recipe for a festive roast chicken full of Cornish flavours.
St Piran’s Day in Penzance, Morrab Gardens.
1 Cornish chicken (preferably free range) bought from the farm or your local independent butcher.
1 hog’s pudding, about 200g is sufficient to stuff a small-medium chicken.
c. 150g Cornish salted butter.
A few strands of saffron (our only non-Cornish ingredient but a very Cornish flavour).
Seasoning (salt and pepper).
1. Take the chicken out of the fridge for at least half an hour before preparing. It is easier to prepare a room temperature chicken than a chilled one.
2. Place the chicken on a large, steady board on front of you and open up the cavity from the rear end.
3. Carefully and patiently use your fingers to peel away the skin from the meat. Be careful not to tear the skin but don’t worry too much if you do. It is most delicate at the bottom of the breast or supreme. The idea is to allow enough room between the bird and its skin to massage in some softened saffron butter.
It will be easier to do this if you don’t have long nails.
Softening butter with saffron.
4. Gently soften the butter with the saffron strands. Do this over a very low heat. You don’t want to melt the butter, just soften it so it is pliable It should be the consistency of a firm paste.
5. Scoop up a bit of the saffron butter in your fingers and massage it in over the breast first and then get as much down onto the thighs as possible, remaining careful not to break the skin. Add any extra on top of the breast.
Cornish chicken, stuffed with hog’s pudding, basted with softened butter and saffron.
6. Cut the hog’s pudding into largish pieces and stuff the cavity. Seal the cavity with a skewer.
7. Season with plenty of sea-salt and a bit of pepper (optional).
8. Place in a roaster (I use an enamel oval roaster with its own lid as I find it produces a perfectly golden skin) or in a roasting pan and cover loosely with foil.
9. Roast as normal according to the size and weight of your chicken. Or, slow roast it like I did for about 2 hours. The gentle cooking produces an excellent thin gravy that you have to do nothing to.
Cornish beetroot grown near Land’s End, roasted with home-grown thyme.
10. Prepare any seasonal Cornish veg. We roasted local beetroot (scrubbed, cut into quarters and seasoned with home-grown thyme), local potatoes, local King January cabbage (quartered and roasted in with the chicken for the last half hour of cooking).
A simple St Piran’s Day 100% Cornish feast.