Chef Steven Lamb has created a Christmas-inspired spice rub that enhances the deep flavour our birds. He’s paired it with a Packington Pork and Pistachio stuffing for Christmas dinner that will wow your guests!


  • Ingredients

    1 Packington Free Range Cockerel

    3-4 tbsp molasses

    1 litre of chicken stock

    20g butter

    For the spice rub

    pinch ground cumin

    ½ tsp ground cinnamon

    5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and lightly crushed

    1 tsp ground black pepper

    ½ tsp grated nutmeg

    3 cloves, crushed

    ½ tsp ground coriander

    2 tbsp olive oil 

    For the cavity aromatics

    3 cardamom pods

    2 garlic cloves

    1 cinnamon stick 

    For the stuffing

    250g Packington Pork mince

    125g salted roasted pistachios, finely crushed (you can toast pistachios in a pan with a sprinkle of salt to make these)

    50g pistachio paste or ground pistachios

    3 garlic cloves, crushed

    2.5cm piece ginger, grated

    2 tsp molasses

    1 tsp ground cumin

    150g salted butter, softened

  • Method

    1. Make the stuffing by blending the ingredients with 1 tsp salt in a food processor. Take care not to purée it – a little bit of crunch here and there makes it all the more satisfying. Check the seasoning by frying a teaspoon of the stuffing and tasting – adjust if you need to.

    2. Put a piece of cling film on a chopping board and dollop on the stuffing, patting it out to rough circle just smaller than the surface of the breast meat to be covered. Make the layer thicker at one end, for the bottom end of the breasts where the meat is thinner – the extra thickness will help to keep it juicy and cook evenly. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 mins to set.

    3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

    4. Calculate the cooking time according to the weight of your bird. Allow 14 minutes per lb/450g plus 20 minutes.

    5. Pat the cockerel dry all over using kitchen paper. From the neck end, push your fingers under the layer of skin on the breasts and wriggle them gently to release the skin and open up the pocket for the stuffing. Push right down – you will need to cover the entire breast meat area with the stuffing – but be careful not to tear the skin.

    6. Make the spice rub by combining all the ingredients. Rub it generously over the bird and inside the cavity, then insert the aromatics into the cavity. Unwrap the stuffing, halve it, then push half under the skin of each of the breasts, thin end first. Cover the cockerel loosely with foil so the spices don’t burn.

    7. Around 20 minutes before the end of your cooking time, remove the bird from the oven. Mix 3 tbsp molasses with 1 tbsp hot water, brush over the skin, then increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and return the cockerel for 20 mins to crisp up the skin. Baste twice more with molasses at five minute intervals. Test the cockerel in the thigh and breast to make sure it is cooked – the juices should run clear. Take the cavity aromatics out of the bird and set aside (don’t worry if you can’t get them all). Leave the cockerel to rest for 45 mins somewhere warm, but don’t cover the skin so it stays crisp.

    8. Meanwhile, pour the fat out of the roasting tin (there will be lots, which you can sieve and keep in the fridge for up to a week to use for cooking), leaving the juices behind. Add a little chicken stock and the cavity aromatics to the tin and bring to a boil, then sieve into a pan. Add the rest of the stock, simmer until reduced by half, then stir in 1 teaspoon grape molasses. Just before serving, add the resting juices from the bird to the pan and bring the sauce back to the boil. Taste for seasoning and stir in the butter.

    Find more of our Christmas recipes in our recipe section here.