"The adage about boiling the rooster with a stone until the stone is tender is easily refuted," says Paulette Whitney. "For every egg-laying hen we hatch there's a rooster who needs to become pie, and by identifying boys early, and preventing anyone from becoming attached to them, we can have a tender bird for the pot. These roosters have incredibly richly flavoured flesh. If you can't get a backyard rooster, look for heritage-breed chooks raised on pasture to find maximum flavour. The rough puff pastry is the easiest, most handy recipe when you find yourself with an empty larder, and comes from my grandmother's CWA cookbook."
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 carrots, cut into 2cm lengths
- 2 small onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 2cm lengths
- 2 heads of garlic
- 1 rooster or heritage-breed chicken (1.5 kg), jointed
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 150 ml white wine
- 150 ml chicken stock
- 2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk, for eggwash
Rough puff pastry
- 225 gm (1½ cups) flour
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 225 gm butter, diced
- 1For pastry, sift flour, cream of tartar and ¼ tsp salt into a large bowl. Add butter, cutting through flour mixture with a pastry scraper until roughly mixed (there should still be some large lumps of butter in the mixture). Make a well in the centre, add 130ml iced water and use pastry scraper to just combine. Knead dough just slightly to bring it together and form into a disc. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface, dusting pastry with flour, to form a rectangle. Fold the two short edges in, one enclosing the other (business-letter style), to form 3 layers. Rotate 90 degrees clockwise, roll out and fold sides in again. Repeat once more, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
- 2Preheat oven to 160°C. Heat a flameproof roasting pan over high heat, add half the oil, vegetables and garlic, and stir until starting to brown (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat, add rooster, herbs, wine, stock and remaining oil, then cover tightly with foil and bake until rooster is tender and cooked through (1½-2 hours). Set aside to cool briefly, then strip meat from the bones. Reserve vegetables, garlic (squeeze cloves from skins) and bay leaf and strain cooking liquid into a saucepan.
- 3Reduce cooking liquid in a saucepan over high heat to 200ml (5-10 minutes). Add cornflour slurry and stir until thickened slightly (1-2 minutes), then season to taste. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- 4Increase oven to 190°C. Combine rooster, vegetables, garlic and reduced sauce in a pie dish. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to 4mm thick, then place over filling, trim edges to leave 1cm overhanging, press to seal and make an incision in the centre. Brush with eggwash and bake until filling is hot and pastry is golden (40-45 minutes). Serve hot.
Drink suggestion: Earthy, rustic grenache. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.