Chicken with Cockle Sauce

I was doing a cookery demonstration in Dumfries, a part of Scotland separated from Cumbria only by the Solway Firth. During the book signing afterwards I started talking to a most interesting woman who told me that in her part of Britain they cooked chicken with cockles. I tracked down the recipe and can recommend it to you.


  • 2 pints cockles, well washed
  • 1 boiling fowl or large free range hen
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 300ml/½ pint dry white wine
  • pinch of mace
  • pinch of cayenne pepper


Open the cockles by simmering in a little salt water and remove from their shells reserving the juice. Truss the fowl and fill the body cavity with two thirds of the cockles, the onion and the celery, and season well. Cook in a chicken brick or in an earthenware jar set in boiling water on top of the stove, for about 2 hours or until tender. If you have neither a brick nor a jar handy, wrap the bird tightly in several layers of tin foil, put in a roasting tin half full of water and cook in the oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Remove the fowl and thicken the gravy with the blended egg yolks and cream, add the remaining cockles, juice and wine, season and add the mace and cayenne.

Carve the bird and pour over the sauce.