COCKEREL, THAT IS ROOSTER, IS STILL USED IN CATALONIA. I’D BET VERY FEW READERS OF THIS BOOK HAVE EVER EATEN COCKEREL. ALL OUR CHICKEN (INCLUDING FREE-RANGE CHICKEN) COMES FROM FLOCKS OF ALL-FEMALE BIRDS — MALES ARE EUTHANISED WHEN THEY HATCH. COCKEREL HAS A MUCH STRONGER FLAVOUR, FIRMER FLESH AND STRONGER BONES THAN CHICKEN. IT IS AVAILABLE FROM A FEW SPECIALITY BUTCHERS IN MAJOR CITIES — AND FROM A FEW FARMER FRIENDS WHO GET TIRED OF THE EARLY MORNING CROWING. COCKEREL NEEDS A GOOD, LONG, SLOW SIMMER, AND TO KEEP IT MOIST IT IS COOKED IN PLENTY OF RED WINE. THE PEOPLE OF THE PRIORAT PATRIOTICALLY USE THEIR LOCAL RED WINE TO MAKE THIS GREAT DISH. IF YOU CAN’T FIND COCKEREL, USE GOOD FREE-RANGE CHICKEN AND REDUCE THE WINE BY HALF AND THE COOKING TIME TO JUST AN HOUR. MAKE SURE THE WINE IS GOOD.
Joint each bird into nine pieces, leaving the breast on the bone. Place in a large glass or stainless steel container. Add the garlic, bay leaves, carrot, leek, wine, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns and combine well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, pour the cockerel and marinade into a colander set over a bowl. Remove the cockerel and pat dry using paper towel. Reserve the vegetables and wine separately.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Add the onion and sauté over high heat for 3–5 minutes, or until slightly golden. Add the reserved vegetables and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, or until golden, then stir in the reserved wine using a wooden spoon, scraping up any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2–3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.
Add the cockerel and
Remove the cockerel and place in a deep serving dish. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a jug, pushing a small portion of the vegetables through the sieve — just enough to thicken the sauce slightly. Spoon the fat from the surface, then place the liquid in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the cockerel and serve with plenty of crusty bread or steamed potatoes.
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