It's a once a year, annual Come Dine With Me, and oneupmanship at it's finest.
As I spent last Christmas in Australia, it was my turn to cook Christmas dinner this year. It needed to be good. In fact it needed to be better than good. It needed to set a new standard. It needed to be different and awesome. The rabbit terrine is never going to be beaten as a starter, so I concentrated on the main course. The pièce de résistance.
"Why don't you cook a multi-bird roast - a bird inside a bird inside a bird?", suggested my girlfriend. This was a genius idea. A multi-bird roast. Not just one meat, but three. This was perfect.
I started Googling the idea, and found the perfect set of instructions and recipe on the Guardian website. I looked through the instructions, and the video. It would be the most technical meal I've ever cooked, but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge, especially when oneupmanship is at stake.
MEET THE BIRDS
"So....what meat are you cooking for the Christmas dinner?", asked one of the lads. "You phrased the question wrong", I said. "You mean what MEATS are you cooking for Christmas dinner". This was greeted with raised eyebrows, which was greeted with a very large grin from me.
I set to work on the joining instructions, and created the following poster (yes, these Christmas dinners are taken very seriously, and yes, my nickname is Bambi).
I carefully folded the duck over the pheasant and cumberland sausage, and made an initial stitch to hold it together. I then folded the chicken over the duck, as best as I could. This was one fat bird! I started stitching all the birds together to make one big, plump chicken.
In the Guardian recipe, they used the duck as the outer bird. I discovered why. Chicken skin isn't quite as tough as duck skin, so I had to be very careful not to rip the skin as I pulled the stitches tight. Making stitches about an inch away from the edge of the skin was the best solution. About 20 minutes later, she was all stitched up!
One last addition - streaky bacon weaving to top off the bird, and add a little more flavour to the gravy :)
Into the oven she went. We had an hour to kill before I had to come back, baste and turn the temperature down, so we donned our Christmas jumpers and headed to the pub. I went for a roll neck jumper this year, and was a little excited about it.
The fat, plump, heavy bird takes many hours to cook. That meant plenty of pre-roast drinks. With a couple of hours to go, I decided to make the starter to keep the lads hunger at bay.
I went for a bacon and sweet potato rosti recipe, and they were delicious.
Time for the multi-bird roast. When I got her out of the oven, the smell was incredible. Hearty, Christmas, roast meat and cooked bacon smells.
The three bird roast was a success. Then came the most satisfying part of the whole experience: the carving.
Slicing through the layers were incredibly enjoyable, partly because of the novelty of carving through multiple meats at once, and partly because of the hard work that had gone into this unique roast.
It was incredibly tasty. There was also A LOT of meat and stuffing to eat. Most of the evenings following the roast, both me and my friends (and my neighbours) were eating the leftovers.
So there you have it. A multi-bird roast that will impress even the best chef. If you fancy having a go, I'll give you one piece of advice - have patience. It takes a lot of time and effort, but the result is very satisfying :).
Let me know how you get on!