How to... Cook a Cockerel, Duck, Goose or 3 Bird Roast



If you're already feeling the pressure of cooking for the hoards on Christmas Day, don't. Follow our quick and easy guides and panic not. It is a very important day and we all like to get things right but let's be honest, the most important thing is the people that you are with. So relax, have another glass of wine and don't take it all too seriously.


Take out of fridge an hour before cooking. Season the bird well. Put on rack in roasting tin with a cup of stock or wine. Cook at 220°C for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 160°C and cook for an hour and 15 minutes, basting regularly. Stick a skewer in the fleshiest part, the juices should run clear. Wrap well in foil, and rest it for 20 mins before carving.



There are 2 ways to cook a duck and a goose, one where you prick the skin another where you don't for a crispier taught skin. Scroll down to the end if you want a crispy skin! 


Take the bird out of the fridge a couple of hours before cooking. Prick the skin and fatty parts with a skewer but do not pierce the meat, season with salt and pepper.

Place on a rack over a deep baking tray and roast at 180°C for 1.5 to 2 hours until the juices run clear. You may need to drain off excess fat a couple of times.

Once cooked rest it for 20 minutes, while you roast your potatoes in the delicious fat.



Prick the skin and fatty parts with a skewer but don’t pierce the meat. Then season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Place on a rack over a deep baking tray and roast for 3-4 hours (depending on whether you have a small, medium, or large goose) at 180°C. You may need to drain off excess fat a couple of times.

Once cooked, rest the bird well while you roast your potatoes in the delicious goose fat.





Take the roast out of the fridge about three hours before it goes into the oven. It needs to come up to room temperature, otherwise it won’t cook very evenly.

Turkey, duck, pheasant: using giant foil, make a big cross in the bottom of your roasting tray, and then place a wire rack on top. Put the roast on the rack, and cover the breast with butter, salt and pepper. Pour a glass of wine or water into the tray, and then fold the foil around the roast in a loose ‘tent’.

Goose, chicken, pheasant: with a small skewer, prick little holes over the surface of the skin, but not into the flesh. Place the roast on a rack over a baking tray and season with salt and pepper. You can add shallots or onions to the tray to roast in the fat if you like (advised – delicious).

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cook the roast in the oven for 4 hours altogether, basting every 30 minutes or so. (Open up the foil on the turkey for the final 30 minutes of cooking to allow the skin to crisp up). To test for "done-ness", insert a meat thermometer into the middle and the reading should be 75°C. If the reading shown is below this, then put the roast back into the oven for a little longer and test again. Allow the roast to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

For a Crispy-Skinned DUCK or GOOSE

Part of the joy of a duck or goose is the crispy skin. The skin acts as a nice tight cover over the fat and the flesh. If you prick the skin the fat bubbles up and out, running down the skin and preventing it from going crisp. So in this instance forget the pricking process and let the fat (which sits under the skin) venture down and through the meat, keeping it moist and escape through the body cavity.

It is a great idea to sit the bird on a rack, but again this can lift it a bit higher towards the heat source, which can crispen the skin before the meat is cooked. If you don't have a rack just stick in the roasting tin. After the first hour carefully pour off half the fat and perhaps 40 minutes later, pour off a bit more if the tin is looking too full.

For a medium sized goose or duck (4-5kg), cook for about 3 hours, starting at 220°C, for 10 min then drop the heat down to around 180°C for goose and 150°C for duck. Funnily enough not a lot more time is needed for a big goose or duck (just an extra 30 min, after all the depth of meat is not that much more, rather the meat is spread over a larger carcass. Normally, when you scratch the skin and it is crispy, then the bird is cooked.

Avoid wrapping the goose or duck in tin foil when resting, after all this will just make the bird sweat and take away the crispness. Instead warm your plates and serve with hot sides.

When you scratch the skin and it is crispy, then it is cooked.


And don't forget some Ginger Pig Redcurrant Jelly or Cranberry & Port Sauce to serve!