Chestnut & wild mushroom stuffed three-bird roast
Recipe type: Festival Special
You'll need a little skill and patience to pull off this elegant multi-bird roast of chicken, pheasant and duck, but there's no other main course quite like it
- 1 medium-large chicken (1.8-2kg is ideal)
- 1 pheasant
- 1 duck breast, skinned
- 2 shallots, roughly chopped
- ½ large pack thyme
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 50g softened butter
- 1 glass of white wine
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 300ml chicken stock
- For the stuffing
- 25g dried porcini mushrooms
- 25g butter
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- ½ pack thyme
- 100g cooked chestnuts, crushed
- 200g good-quality pork sausages, skinned
- small pack parsley, roughly chopped
- zest 1 lemon, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- For the stuffing, soak the porcini in 300ml boiling water and set aside for 20 mins, then drain, reserving the liquid, and finely chop. Heat the butter and fry the shallots for 2 mins, then add the mushrooms and cook for 3 mins more. Leave to cool. Mix with all the other stuffing ingredients and set aside.
- Place the chicken, breast-side down, on the board. Use a sharp boning knife to cut through the skin on the backbone along the length of the bird. Slowly run your knife down against one side of the ribcage, working down the length of the chicken and keeping close to the bone. As you cut, use the other hand to gently pull away the skin and expose the flesh. Pop out the thigh and wing joints, and cut through where they are attached to the main carcass. Continue cutting down the side of the bird, keeping the knife as close to the carcass as possible, until you reach the ridge of the breast bone, then repeat with the other side.
- To remove the carcass completely, snap away the wishbone where it joins at the neck end and carefully cut beneath the breast bone – this is where the skin is at its thinnest, so carefully cut away, then lift and cut away the carcass, as you don’t want to nip or pierce the skin.
- Open up the chicken, skin-side down, and scrape clean or cut away the thigh bones and any other stray bits of bone or cartilage like the wishbone. Remove the 2 smaller fillets that run along the breast and set aside. Finally, use a larger chopping knife to cut off the feet and wing tips, but don’t discard them.
- Repeat with the pheasant, but cut the legs off completely so you are left with just the 2 breasts attached by the skin. Cut the legs in half and keep. You should now have the semi-boned chicken, the pheasant breasts, the skinned duck breast and the stuffing. If all that butchery doesn’t appeal, your butcher – with a bit of warning – should be able to prepare all the birds to this stage for you.
- To assemble the roast, open up the chicken, skin-side down. Put a third of the stuffing between 2 pieces of cling film and use a rolling pin to roll it out flat so that it just covers the surface area, then place on top of the chicken. Lay the duck breast in the middle of the stuffing, cover with a layer of stuffing, then add the pheasant breasts, skin-side down. Add a final layer of stuffing and lay the 2 chicken mini fillets on top.
- Tuck in the top and bottom edges of the chicken, and pull the two long edges together. Tuck one edge of it over the other so everything is rolled together and neatly encased, then flip over. Using butcher’s string, tie the chicken at regular intervals around the width, then tie it once around the length to hold the stuffing in. Finally, tie the legs together. Can be prepared to this stage and chilled up to 1 day ahead.
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Scatter the shallots, thyme and carrot into a roasting tin with the pheasant legs and chicken wing tips. Place the roast on the vegetables and rub all over with the softened butter. Pour the wine over, then season generously. Put the tin in the oven and cook for 1 hr 40 mins until beautifully browned all over, or until a digital cooking thermometer reads 68C (or above) when inserted in the middle. Remove, loosely cover with foil, and leave to rest somewhere warm for 30 mins.
- While the roast is resting, make the gravy. Place the tin on a low flame if flameproof, or tip the contents into a saucepan if not. Scatter over the flour and cook until light brown. Gradually pour in the mushroom soaking liquid, then the chicken stock. Simmer everything together until you have a smooth, thickened gravy, adding any resting juices from the roast. Season to taste, then strain the gravy through a sieve into another saucepan. When the roast has rested, remove the string, carefully carve into thick slices and sprinkle with thyme.