Woodcock is a very prized species of game. It is a small bird and the dark flesh has a decidedly strong wild flavour. Allow the birds to hang for 3–4 days. Woodcock are not usually drawn and should be served medium to rare after 10–20 minutes cooking at the most.
Brush the woodcock with the melted butter. Wrap 2 rashers of streaky bacon around each bird. Roast the woodcock in an oven set at 200°C/400°F/gas 6, for 10–20 minutes (rare or medium).
Place the toasted croûtons under the birds 5 minutes into the cooking time to catch the trail as it drops out. Before the birds are cooked, remove the bacon, baste the birds and return to the oven to brown.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven, season the birds with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the pan on a high heat, pour over the warmed brandy and set it alight. Let the flames die out and serve at once. A simple accompaniment of watercress and game chips is all that is necessary.
© 1993 Ann and Franco Taruschio. All rights reserved.