From The Scotsman, alternatives to the usual holiday dead bird:
DECEMBER may be rough on the poor old turkey but you won't find many chefs who put it top of their list of favourite times of the year either. ... Sticking with fowl, you could try duck, guinea fowl or goose. Pheasant is fairly plentiful just now and not too expensive. With roasts, you could think about a haunch of venison or even honey-roasting your own gammon.
Pheasant breast with chorizo bubble and squeak and caramelised onion sauce (serves four)
Ingredients: 4 pheasant breast fillets, 200-250g each 2 cloves garlic, crushed 4 sprigs fresh thyme Salt and black pepper 2 tbsp olive oil
For the bubble and squeak: 200g chorizo, cooked and sliced Half a savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed 1 red onion, chopped 12-15 cooked baby potatoes, roughly sliced 50g butter 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
For the sauce: 50g butter 1 tbsp olive oil 200ml chicken stock 200ml red wine 1 medium onion, sliced 1 tbsp caster sugar Salt and black pepper
Method: Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Brush the pheasant breasts with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Cover until using.
Make the sauce. In a heavy based pot melt the butter and the olive oil. Toss in the chopped onion and sauté for one to two minutes. Remove the centre from the cabbage and slice. Add to the onion along with the vinegar and continue to sauté until softened. Toss in the sliced chorizo and the chopped potatoes and stir thoroughly. Transfer to an oven dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Make the bubble and squeak. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil and sauté the onion for two minutes. Add the sugar and cook for a further three to four minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.
De-glaze the pan with the red wine and allow to reduce by half, then add the stock. Reduce by half again and re-add the onions. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Warm the remaining olive oil in a pan and fry the pheasant breasts for two minutes on both sides. Place the pan in the oven for four to five minutes until the breasts are just cooked through.
Pour the sauce on to four plates. Spoon the bubble and squeak into the centre then serve the pheasant breasts on top.
Roasted guinea fowl with bacon and apple (serves two)
Ingredients: 1 guinea fowl 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 4 rashers streaky bacon 2 apples, cored and sliced 50g butter 200ml double cream Salt and black pepper Method: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (425°F).
Season the guinea fowl with the salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Place a sprig of rosemary on each side, then wrap the bacon around the bird.
Rub the butter around the sides of a casserole dish. Place the bird in the centre and arrange the apple slices around the sides. Pour over half the cream and cover, then place in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Test with a skewer in the thigh; if the juices run clear then it's cooked.
Remove the bird and keep warm. Add the remaining cream to the dish and heat gently to make a sauce. Serve with potatoes and seasonal vegetables.