I over-ordered at Christmas. Bought two massive cocks but only needed one. Such is life. So what to do with my second cock? This recipe, inspired by Tom Kerridge’s ‘Perfect Dishes’ cookbook.
Big Tom uses a 1.8kg chicken in his recipe, but I jointed a 5kg cockerel, sourced from Phil Truin, via Suffolk Food Hall, and used just one breast to feed my wife and I.
The results were spectacular: the meat was almost gamey in flavour, but incredibly succulent, and made sublime squeezing and spreading pureed garlic clove flesh on thick slices.
1 cockerel breast, weighing approx. 500-600g
100ml chicken stock
100ml white wine
2 tbsp brandy
1 medium potato, peeled
4 bay leaves
250ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
40 garlic cloves, separated but not peeled
1 small bunch thyme
Vegetable oil, for pan roasting
For the brine
2 litres water
400g sea salt
390g Demerara sugar
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 bay leave
2 thyme sprigs
For the mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. First joint the cockerel, as follows….
2. To make the brine, bring all the ingredients to the boil in a large saucepan, stirring to make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved.
3. Leave to cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge. When chilled, place the chicken into the brine, cover and leave in the fridge for 8 hours. Remove the cockerel and pat dry on kitchen paper.
4. Preheat the oven to 210C/Gas 7.
5. Pour the chicken stock, white wine and brandy into a large casserole and bring to the boil. Add the potato and bay leaves. Place the cockerel breast in the casserole and pour in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper then throw in the garlic cloves and thyme.
6. Put a lid on the casserole and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the cockerel breast is cooked. Test it with an instant-read thermometer – it should have an internal temperature of 70C (I don’t have a thermometer so I inserted a knife into the thickest part, pressed down and the juices ran clear, so I knew it was cooked through).
7. Remove the breast from the casserole and put it into a roasting tin. Turn the oven down to 60C/Gas ¼ and place the breast in the oven to rest.
8. Place a fine sieve over a jug and drain the cooking liquor into it. Carefully lift the whole potato out, place it on a small plate and put it into the fridge to chill.
9. Gently pour off the cooking oil from the jug – it will have separated and floated to the top. Keep this oil and put into the freezer to quickly chill down as you are going to use it to make the mayonnaise.
10. Pat the garlic cloves dry on some kitchen paper. Warm a large non-stick frying pan and drizzle in a little vegetable oil. Add the garlic cloves and roast them in the pan until they are browned and toasted, but not burnt. They will be very soft and sweet inside.
11. Remove the garlic cloves from the pan, turn up the heat and add a little more oil. Remove the cockerel from the roasting tin and transfer it to the pan, skin-side down for a couple of minutes, to colour and crisp up the skin. (Tom uses a blowtorch for this stage, but I don’t have one).
12. To make the mayonnaise, place the chilled potato, mustard, egg yolks and vinegar in a food processor and puree until smooth.
13. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the chilled cooking oil until it emulsifies into a thick mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
14. To serve, carve the breast into thick slices. Serve on large plates with crisp lettuce leaves, stove-top roast potatoes, scattered with garlic cloves and dollops of mayonnaise.