Peacock Roasted

Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Complex

Appears in

Cooking and Dining in Medieval England

Cooking and Dining in Medieval England

By Peter Brears

Published 2008

  • About

Ingredients

  • 1 peacock, under 18 months
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ground cumin

    Method

    Lay the peacock on its back, cut the skin across from the joint of one thigh to the joint of the other, and around the joints of each thigh, and peel the feathered skin from the thighs.

    From that last cut, cut down to the vent, peel back the skin on both sides, and cut across the base of the ‘parson’s nose’, so that the tail and surrounding skin are separated from the carcass.

    Turn the bird breast-down, ease the skin, tail and the rest up the back, cutting the inner ends of the pinions so that the wings remain part of the skin.

    Pull the skin up the breast and neck, as if removing a stocking, until the neck is exposed up to the top vertebra. Cut through this, to separate the entire skin from the carcass. Dust the flesh side of the skin with cumin.

    Draw the peacock through the vent, rinse, and dry with cloths.

    Spit the peacock from the vent through the top of the breast (see Fig. 45), push one skewer through the breast, just below the wings and spit, and another through the thighs below the spit. Using twine, truss the neck vertically against a wooden or metal skewer, and the legs up as if the bird was sitting on a perch.

    Roast or oven-bake at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, allowing 20 minutes per lb (450g), plus 20 minutes (or until tender). It may be basted with wine, spices and salt, or endored with beaten egg yolk. When cooked, remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

    Originally, the skin was replaced over the roast carcass, ‘on a targe, and sprade the tayle abrode, and serve hym fort as he war a quyk pekok’, with the comb gilded. Today, it should be mounted on a chicken-wire substitute for presentation at the table, then returned to the kitchen, where the real peacock is now ready for carving and serving with sauce ginger.