Try this unusual recipe for woodcock with cider, says Mark Hinge, and wow your guests

You’ll not find a green, greater or lesser spotted woodpecker in this woodcock recipe. You will, however, find good old English Bramley apples, cider and woodcock. Woodcock deserves simple cooking and this tasty recipe is easy to follow.

Ingredients

  • Woodcock
  • Bramley apples
  • Olive oil or goose or duck fat
  • Cider
  • Single cream
  • Seasoning

Method

  1. Extend the neck of the bird and push the beak back through both thighs of the bird. Dry well and place to one side.
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples. Put the fat into a pan, heat on the hob and brown the woodcock all over.
  3. Arrange the apple around the bird and add ¼ pint of cider. Season well. Cook at 190ºC for 25 minutes or so. Baste the woodcock every 10 minutes with the cider and juices.
  4. Once cooked, put the bird to one side to rest. Add another ¼ pint of cider to the pan and heat up the juices, cider and apples. Once bubbling and reduced add a splash of cream, mix the sauce and serve.

Tips
Dry the bird well – any water will make the fat spit. To truss the bird, pinch the beak shut hard and then push it through both the woodcock’s thighs. Wrap tin foil around the legs to stop them charring. If you use an undrawn woodcock, scoop out the dissolving innards and mix them up with the apples and cider.

Use a medium cider such as Woodpecker to balance the sharpness of the apples. If you prefer a sharper apple sauce, use a dry Hereford, Somerset or Normandy cider.

Test the bird by piercing the breast with a skewer, if the liquid that runs out is clear, the meat is well done, if it is slightly pink, the meat will be medium-rare.

Cook seasonal vegetables with this woodcock dish. I used mashed celeriac, to which I added chopped parsley, thyme and rosemary. Serve with a hot salad such as peppery rocket or watercress. Wash down with the rest of the cider.