Traditional roast woodcock

Posted on 22nd Jan 2015 Categories: News

This delicious seasonal bird can often confound the inexperienced game chef, but this simple recipe will celebrate the woodcock's rich, distinctive sweet flavour. You will need one woodcock per person.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 woodcock Roast woodcock
  • 1/2 pack salted butter 
  • 4 slices of bread 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 1/2 bottle red wine 
  • Chicken stock


Pluck the woodcock across the body, remove the wings, leaving its legs and feathered head on, and prepare it for roasting by stuffing its beak through its thighs to hold it tight. Put a knob of salted butter per bird in a frying pan over a medium heat, season, and brown the woodcocks off in the butter.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place a slice of bread per bird on a roasting tray, pour the buttery juices from the frying pan over each slice, pop one bird on top of each slice and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. You will know the bird is ready when, if you gently squeeze the breast of the bird, it is firm but not hard and the toast has turned a golden brown colour. Remove from the oven, take each bird off the toast, remove the head, breasts and legs from the bird and cover with tin foil to keep warm, allowing the meat to rest. Open the cavity of each of the carcasses and take out the lungs, heart and liver and place to one side. Using a sharp knife, cut the remaining carcasses each into four or five pieces and fry them in butter for five minutes. Add a large glass of red wine per bird, two cups of chicken stock per bird and reduce this over a high heat. After around five minutes, strain off the woodcock carcasses and return the jus to the heat.

Finely chop the lungs, heart and liver and mix with two large knobs of butter per bird. Add this to the red wine woodcock reduction and stir in, allowing to cook for three to four minutes. You are now ready to plate your birds. Pile on top of each slice of bread two breasts and two legs. Take a head and slice it down the middle, from the top of the head to the neck, cutting through the beak and brain. Woodcock brain is considered something of a delicacy to be savoured in many countries - it's a small white blob about the size of a pea. Place the two head slices on top of your leg and breast meat and be sure to pick out the brain when you eat, discarding the rest of the skull. Finally drizzle your red wine jus over your woodcock and bon appetite!