Majestic Two and Three Bird Roastsby Annabel Warne November 21 2016
For a festive feast that’s fit for a king, nothing surpasses a three-bird roast. But don’t worry if there’s only two, three or four of you around the table – our ballotines and game roulades offer the same kingly flavour on a slightly smaller scale.
Extravagant multi-bird roasts were the height of fashion in Tudor times, taking centre stage in grand dining rooms as proof of the wealth of the household and the abundance of game thriving within the estate. Encased within a thick crust to prevent the meat drying out as it was cooked by the fire, these enormous pies contained a range of wild and farmed birds.
‘Christmas pies’ continued to grow in popularity for the festive season, and were enjoyed cold over a number of days. Containing as many as 16 birds, the grandest required large teams of cooks to prepare. The recipe for one such multi-bird pie, published in ‘The Art of Cookery’ by Hannah Glasse in 1740, called for four pounds of butter, four bushels of flour and ‘whatever sort of wild fowl you can get’.
Queen Victoria was also reputedly a fan and in 1858 a colossal ‘Yorkshire Christmas Pie’, as it came to be known, delighted her guests at Windsor Castle.
Multi-bird roasts today
Multiple bird roasts have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years as demand continues to grow for greater flavour from our food. Once you’ve tried the subtle gamey flavours of our multi-bird roasts, which are the result of the birds’ natural varied diets, it’s difficult to get excited about a supermarket turkey again.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also helped spark interest by creating a 10-bird roast for his River Cottage Medieval Christmas banquet. An 18lb turkey was stuffed with a goose, duck, mallard, guinea fowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon and woodcock to create a spectacular showpiece (watch Hugh make it on Youtube here).
Unless you’re planning to invite the whole village over for lunch, a three-bird roast should be mighty enough for a dazzling dinner party at home. Our impressive party three-bird roast serves up to 20 and consists of pheasant, then chicken inside a boneless easy-carve goose with your choice of stuffing (gluten-free orange and thyme or pork-free orange, apricot and rosemary). This bird combination is chosen for impact, ease of cooking and, of course, size. The contrasting colours look great on the plate and the goose’s natural fat bastes the leaner fillets inside so cooking couldn’t be easier.
Our flavoursome family three-bird roast, meanwhile, serves up to 10 and comprises pheasant and wood pigeon inside a boneless easy-carve Gressingham duck with your choice of stuffing.
All our multi-bird roasts are just as tasty served cold – especially with sharp fruit jellies, such as redcurrant, rowan, cranberry or Wild at Heart's Medlar Jelly – making them perfect for Victorian style Boxing Day suppers.
Creating your own multi-bird roast is no mean feat but if you are tempted to try, take a look at Hugh’s guide for the Guardian. We can make life a little easier (without taking away any of your glory) by boning and filleting your choice of birds.
Ballotines and roulades: our two-bird roasts
Our two-bird roasts allow groups of all sizes to enjoy complementary game flavours this Christmas. Our boneless ballotines include pheasant and pigeon, pigeon and quail, guinea fowl and mallard, and mallard and partridge, all of which include a choice of flavour-matched stuffing. We also offer game roulades, which combine pheasant with wild duck, rolled and wrapped with free-range streaky bacon.
Large parties can enjoy a selection of roasts while smaller families or couples can find a ballotine that is just the right size for them.
For a meal in just 15 minutes, we’d also invite you to try our mini game roasts, which comprise a wild boar sausage and pheasant fillet wrapped in bacon.
Who said spectacular or delicious had to be difficult?