Christmas with the Mckie’s

1st December 2016 In Season

The big day will be here before we know it, so we thought it would be fun to let you know what we will be having for Christmas Dinner at home with the McKie family this year.

Please don’t tell anyone but I must admit that I am not a huge fan of turkey! That’s probably because I have been cooking them for more than a month before Christmas and by the time the 25th December arrives I am very keen to cook something else. So, this year at home we will be having a goose and a ‘three bird roast’ for our family on Christmas Day.

And just in case you are wondering what a Three bird roast is, this is a roast that takes three boned birds that are stuffed inside each other – with the smallest in the middle! There are a range of birds to choose from but we will be using a pheasant, mallard and a partridge stuffed with venison, apricot and brandy sausage meat then wrapped in bacon. Plus, all the usual trimmings, we finely shred the sprouts… I use the tops and add to a pan with bacon lardons and chestnuts, cook quickly then serve.

A bird in the hand!
But since we are talking about the Three Bird Roast, we thought we would take a closer look at its origins as well as some other fascinating variations of it too.

In North America, a Turducken is a roast consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, then stuffed into a deboned turkey, here in the UK we tend to call it a Three bird roast. Gooducken is a traditional English variant which, as the name would imply, replaces the turkey with a goose. A turducken is actually a type of ballotine sometimes called a ‘Royal roast’ and there is even a ‘Five bird roast‘ which uses a goose, a turkey, a chicken, a pheasant, and a pigeon all stuffed with sausage, which was described as a modern revival of the traditional Yorkshire Christmas Pie.

Credit for the creation of the turducken is a little uncertain, although the most common claimant is Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Louisiana whose Cajun owners say they created it when a local man brought his own birds to their shop and asked the brothers to create the medley. But back in the fifties and staying in Louisiana, New Orleans surgeon Dr La Nasa, was locally known for his use of a scalpel in deboning his three birds of choice, sometimes adding pork or veal to the final cavity, Andouille sausage and Foie Gras were also key ingredients in his famous version.

However much further back, in 1807, French gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière presents his rôti sans pareil (“roast without equal”) which consists of a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler!
But as if that wasn’t enough do look at this extract from the book Passion India: The Story of the Spanish Princess of Kapurthula which features a section that recounts a similar dish in India in the late 1800’s.

“Invited by Maharajah Ganga Singh to the most extraordinary of dinners, in the palace at Bikaner, when Anita asks her host for the recipe of such a succulent dish, he answers her seriously, “Prepare a whole camel, skinned and cleaned, put a goat inside it, and inside the goat a turkey and inside the turkey a chicken. Stuff the chicken with a grouse and inside that put a quail and finally inside that a sparrow. Then season it all well, place the camel in a hole in the ground and roast it.”

We hope that you have enjoyed reading this very seasonal blog and whilst you are probably not going to be serving anything quite this ambitious or exotic, whatever you choose to have for your Christmas Dinner, we hope that you have a wonderful time with your loved ones.