Our cockerels should be cooked slowly at a low temperature to produce a silky, succulent texture to match their unbeatable flavour. We’ve put together a light-yet-satisfying Thai dish, but these birds can be used in any casserole, pot-roast or poaching recipe, for cock-a-leekie soup or traditional coq au vin, or a Heston-esque, 5-hours-at-90C-style roast. The large, meaty legs also make for excellent confit and rillettes.
The end result isn’t the prettiest bird you'll ever present to the table - no crispy skin - but he has flavour in spades; boy is he tasty. The meat pulls away from the bone with gentlest persuasion, and the reduced broth turns this meal into a laksa-type dish; comforting yet fresh, suitable both for chilly nights and warmer days. If you don't have a large pot – and this recipe does need a big one – joint the cockerel (or ask one of our butchers to) before cooking and reduce the cooking time by 45 minutes. A 3kg cockerel will easily serve six.
For the pot roasting
A 3kg cockerel
4 sticks lemongrass, bashed with a rolling pin
5 kaffir lime leaves (dried are fine, and the zest of a lime will also do)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and bashed
A large-ish (around 6cm) piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced
10 black peppercorns
4 star anise
1 large bunch coriander, stalks and leaves separated (retain both)
1tsp chilli flakes
1 tin of coconut milk (full fat is best)
1l chicken stock
A very large pot!
Thai fish sauce
The reserved coriander leaves
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Cooked rice or noodles
1. Heat the oven to 160C.
2. Un-truss the cockerel to allow for even cooking and sprinkle a little salt inside the cavity of the bird. Put the cockerel upside down into your large pot along with all of the remaining pot roast ingredients, leaving out the coriander leaves, and sprinkling a little more salt into the pot. Put a lid on the pot and bake in the oven for 3 hours, baste every 45 minutes or so and carefully turn the bird over half way through.
3. Once the cooking time is up, allow the dish to stand for ten minutes before very, very carefully removing the cockerel from the pot using a fish slice and a carving fork. The tender wings may fall off at this point, and make an excellent snack for the cook. Wrap the bird in foil and rest it until serving.
4. Reduce the cooking liquid by around a quarter, until it loosely coats the back of a spoon, then strain and discard the aromatics and spices. Add fish sauce to taste - a good tablespoon should do it - and serve bowls of cooked rice or noodles with plenty of sauce, -think half rice dish, half soup - pieces of succulent chicken, spring onions, coriander leaves, a squeeze of lime and a dollop of chilli sauce for hot heads.