The Yorkshire Shepherdess:  Roast Christmas Cockerel with Herb and Lemon Butter Recipe

The Yorkshire Shepherdess: Roast Christmas Cockerel with Herb and Lemon Butter Recipe

  1. List Of Ingredients
  2. 3kg free-range cockerel
  3. 6g each of fresh thyme, rosemary and sage, leaves finely chopped
  4. 75g butter
  5. 1 lemon, zested and cut in half
  6. 250g streaky bacon
  7. 1 tbsp Yorkshire rapeseed oil
  8. Salt and black pepper
  9. For the gravy:
  10. 30ml Marsala
  11. 25g plain flour
  12. 500ml hot chicken stock
    1. PREP TIME: 20 minutes
    2. COOKING TIME: 2 hours 30 minutes
    3. SERVES: 4-6


1. Remove the cockerel from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

2.Mix together the chopped herbs, butter and lemon zest in a small bowl. Push three-quarters of the butter under the cockerel skin, pulling the skin gently to get the butter right between the flesh and skin. Spread the remainder of the butter on top of the bird and season with salt and pepper.

3. Criss-cross the bacon over the bird and pop the lemon halves into the neck cavity. Drizzle over the oil, then place the bird into a large roasting pan. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 140°C/120°C fan/gas 1 and cook for a further 2 hours. Check that the meat juices run clear before removing the cockerel from the oven. If the cockerel is browning too much, place foil lightly over the top.

4. Once cooked, remove the cockerel from the oven and place on a tray. Cover with foil to rest for 30 minutes.

5. To make the gravy, strain the fat from the roasting pan, leaving only the juices. Heat the roasting pan, or add the juices to a saucepan, then pour over the Marsala and cook over a moderate heat, scraping the residue from the bottom of the pan. Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle over the flour; mix well to blend the flour with the meat juices. Cook over a gentle heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring, until the flour roux turns golden brown and it has a smooth texture.

6. Remove from the heat and stir in the stock then return to the heat and boil for 3–4 minutes, stirring all the time to remove any lumps and until the gravy thickens. Season to taste.

7. Carve the cockerel and serve with the gravy, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Tip: Save the cockerel carcass and use to make a homemade stock.

Extracted from Celebrating the Seasons with the Yorkshire Shepherdess