Not everybody wants a turkey at Christmas. To be honest, if we really liked it, we’d eat it more than once a year! So this Christmas, why not try a Cornish Chicken for your festive roast dinner?
A more modest bird than the turkey, it’s easier to cook, doesn’t take all day in the oven, and you won’t be eating it for a week afterwards. Simply roast and enjoy, then use the bones for a delicious Boxing Day soup. Our chickens have a rich, gamey flavour which I think makes them very appropriate as a traditional-tasting Christmas roast.
There are some lovely tweaks you can make to roast chicken to make it really festive, while still sticking to the much-loved trimmings.
Stuffing, whether inside the bird or rolled up into neat little balls, is everyone’s favourite accompaniment. For a festive flavour, move away from sage and onion and try something a bit more Christmassy. Mary Berry does a wonderful apricot and chestnut stuffing, or if you’re feeling bold, few things are as full of yuletide ingredients as Nigella’s incredible gingerbread stuffing. She uses ginger-cake crumbs instead of the usual breadcrumbs, and combines this with bacon, apple, and clementines.
Have a look at this colourful roast chicken and stuffing from Aussie writer and photographer Katie Quinn Davies, which she describes as “so Christmassy in aroma and flavour”. There’s just something about those jewel-like little pomegranate seeds that makes a dish look celebratory – the essence of Christmas, on a plate.
Another important accompaniment to the traditional roast is the bacon and sausages. Whether you choose to gift-wrap your bird in bacon, or curl the sausages up in it and scatter them around the roast, the pork-based element is such an essential part of the Christmas dinner. Cornish farmers Primrose Herd are my favourites for this.
Of course, many people would refuse to even sit down for dinner if there weren’t roast potatoes! Cook them searing hot in goose fat, or try something more Mediterranean by splashing in the olive oil and adding plenty of garlic and rosemary. Lemony roast potatoes can be wonderful if you’re going for the less conventional, more pomegranatey approach. Cooking the potatoes around the roasting chicken, so they suck up all the juices and go all gooey, is just luscious.
For vegetables, I just pop down to the local farm shop and see what looks good. Carrots, sprouts, kale, parsnips, swede, beetroot… Chicken is a very chilled-out roast in that respect – it’s happy with any vegetables, and tastes just as good with cranberry sauce as turkey does!
Hungry now? We’re already taking orders for Christmas. ..
Please let me know how many you’re feeding, and I’ll pick the best bird for you. We’re rearing slightly larger chickens especially for Christmas, so will have birds ranging from 2 to 3 kilos for sale.
You can collect your Christmas chicken from me at Penzance Farmers’ Market on 18 December or we’ll be at Helston Farmers’ Market on 19 December. If this isn’t possible, you can pop round to the farm at Morvah on the 23rd – please contact us to arrange this.