dec cookery royal roast


Serves 12 (at least)

  • 1kg (2lb 3oz) best pork sausage meat
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • Large bunch of sage, finely chopped
  • 1 jar wholegrain mustard
  • 1 free-range bronze turkey, about 13lb
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pheasant
  • 1 grouse
  • 1 partridge
  • 1 roe deer tenderloin
  • Barding needle and butcher’s string
  • 200g (7oz) goose fat
  • 200g (7oz) smoked bacon

Commence operations by making the stuffing.

I like to keep this simple, because there are so many flavours booting around your palate, we don’t want to confuse things any further.

Mix the sausagemeat with the very finely chopped onion and two handfuls of finely chopped sage. Add 4 tbsp of mustard and mix well with the other ingredients.

Lay the turkey on its back on a big board and season it lightly with salt and pepper.

Lay a ½in-thick layer of stuffing down the line between the breasts and in the cavity in the thighs where the bone was.
Lie the pheasant on top of it, skin side down.

Repeat the process, using stuffing like cement to fill in the gaps and holes where necessary.
Repeat again with the grouse and the partridge, and finish up with the roe deer tenderloin all the way down the middle.

Encase this in stuffing to protect it when cooking.

Thread your needle with 3ft of butcher’s string, and bring the sides together (get help with this). Start stitching the turkey back together, making sure you do not tear the skin. Stitch all the way to the neck, fold the neck skin over and sew it in tight.

Turn the birds over and sit them on a trivet in a roasting dish. Slather with goose fat, cover in bacon and lay a piece of foil over the top loosely.

Roast for 90 minutes at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, then remove the foil and turn the temperature up to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Roast for another 45 minutes to an hour until golden.

The turkey is cooked when a skewer pushed into the centre comes out hot to touch.

Once cooked, remember to rest the bird for at least 45 minutes to juicy perfection.

This recipe is very impressive, not hard to do and can be embellished to the most ridiculous extent.

Try surrounding the serving dish with 12 little roasted quails and putting foie gras in the centre of the roast, then serving the whole with 1983 Château Talbot ( as we did last year).
The side dishes I leave to you, dear reader, but I suggest devils on horseback, perfect roast potatoes, and maybe a hint of spiced red cabbage.

To bone the birds

Take the partridge as an example. You need game shears and a small, sharp surgical knife.

  • Start by laying the bird on its breast and cut the backbone out using game shears.
  • Remove the wings and the drumsticks (except the turkey’s).
  • Cut carefully between the meat and the ribs, working your way to the sternum from either side. It is vital not to cut the skin. You will end up with a fully exposed breast cage of bones. Then cut carefully underneath and lift out the skeleton, leaving the skin with two breasts attached.
  • Remove the thigh bones by making a cut along the bone’s length, then working the point of the knife around the bone.
  • Remove the small oyster-shaped bone to the side of the thigh. That is it! Practise before the big day and remember, the only bird that has to look perfect is the turkey.