Cock’s Comb

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

cock’s comb is the fleshy crest sported by the males of the order Galliformes (chicken, turkey, pheasant, and the like). Females have combs too, but they are not so resplendent. The comb is severed post mortem, cleaned, put in hot (not boiling) water to lift the skin, which is rubbed off with salt in a cloth, soaked in cold water to drain all the blood, then poached in stock. It then forms part of those dainty morsels of white offal, the béatilles (see batalia pie) which were often found in ragouts in haute cuisine (financière was a favourite, perhaps filling a vol-au-vent), or as luxurious trimmings. They are a signature ingredient in a similarly complex mixture of innards and offal known in Tuscany as cibreo (used as a sauce, perhaps for tagliatelle). They figure too in elaborate court cookery of the late medieval and early modern periods (Martino, Scappi, Robert May). Today they are less often seen. Sometimes slices of tongue masquerade as combs, and they can still be bought in tins ready-cooked. The Chinese are known to eat them in a stir-fry, but in the Philippines, the chicken’s head (the ‘helmet’) is sold without the comb.