Cooking Cockerels with

Roasted Chooks at the Rooke Cockerel

We think chef Guy Grossi has given us the most delicious alternative to Christmas turkey in a long time…okay, we may be a little biased but this roasted cockerel has a great depth of flavour, texture and is a striking addition to the Christmas table.

Guy says, “Brining it really makes a difference to the texture of the meat, and allowing it to dry out in the fridge for at least three days, really brings out the best in the bird.”

And take the time for the Grappa Cherries, a syrupy sweet and gutsy compote-like mix.

Once you’ve enjoyed the bird, Guy says, “Keep the bones and make a stock. There’s so much flavour in those bones, they make a delicious brodo.”


Brine Solution

4 litres water
1 cup salt
½ cup honey
12 bay leaves
10 cloves garlic, skin-on, smashed
2 tbsp black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch flat leaf parsley stalks
2 lemons, zested

Place all ingredients in a clean pot and bring to the boil, allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely.

The Cockerel

1 Chook at the Rooke cockerel approximately 2kg in size

Pour the cold brine solution over the cockerel.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the cockerel from the brine pat dry with absorbent paper and hang in the fridge for 3 days.

Grappa Cherries

2kg cherries, pits in or out is okay.
100 ml Grappa
300 ml water
225 gm caster sugar
3 Star Anise

Place the Grappa, water, sugar and star anise into a pot and bring to the boil. Mix in the cherries and bring back to the boil, remove from the heat and pour into an airtight container not covered to cool completely. Cover with lid and refrigerate until needed, this will keep for 3 weeks if the cherries are submerged in the liquid and covered.

Herb and Spice Rub

½ bunch flat leaf parsley
½ bunch sage
2 lemons zested
2 sprigs rosemary
2 gm chilli flakes
2 gm cracked black pepper
2 gm fennel seeds
2 Star Anise ground
3 cloves, ground
50ml Olive oil

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend on high speed gradually adding the olive oil until a paste has formed.

Roasting the Cockerel

1 bunch rosemary
350 ml hite wine
Grappa cherries

Pre-heat the oven to 175C.

Rub the cockerel all over with the herb and spice rub, insert a few sprigs of rosemary in the cavity then place the cockerel onto a wire rack in a baking tray and place in the oven for approximately 75 minutes until golden.

Check the internal temperature by probing the thickest part of the breast with a thermometer. It should be between 65 to 70C.

Insert 8 fresh sprigs of rosemary in its cavity, put aside and allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the baking tray with the cooking juices on a low heat and deglaze with white wine. Strain the juices into a pot, add some of the grappa cherries and syrup and allow to come to the boil and serve with the cockerel.

Place the bird on a wooden board and carve in front of your guests. ENJOY.