Every now and then I feel like getting my hands bloody and cooking a meal totally from scratch, including all the gruesome stuff you would usually leave to your butcher. It seems only fair, as a carnivore, to go through this visceral process once in a while. My last home butchery contestants were a couple of wild rabbits. Stepping up to the plate this time was this elegant ménage à trois of Norfolk woodcock.
Woodcock on toast. Serves 3.
Pluck any stray feathers from the birds and remove their heads with a swift blow from a sharp, heavy knife. Discard*. Leave the innards intact as they’re the tastiest bit – that’s coming from a serial offal dodger so trust me here!
Once plucked, season the birds and swaddle them in smoked streaky bacon. Top each with a knob of butter and roast in a preheated oven at top whack for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160ºC, remove the bacon and return the naked birds to roast for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare for the gravy by roughly dicing the bacon and adding to a frying pan over a medium flame. Remove the birds from the oven and scrape the innards into the pan with the bacon and a big glug of red wine. Squash everything together as you go to make a wonderfully rich and gamey gravy.
Toast or griddle 3 thick slices of white bread, spread with butter and spoon over the gravy. Divide the birds into breast and leg portions and lay them on top. Serve to some adventurous friends with lots of red wine. Where to for my next foray into the wild?
*Some brutal traditionalists like to roast the head too, scoop out the brains and use the skull as a spoon with the beak as a handle. Feel free to follow suit if you’re keen but I wasn’t really up for it.