Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
James Alexander Fine Foods has plenty of treats to order online
Anyone searching for an alternative to lamb for Easter lunch might like to try the three bird roast from Janes Alexander Fine Foods. Boned duck, pheasant and chicken stuffed with Cumberland sausage meat will impress your guests – hopefully, the sun will shine over the Easter weekend so we can eat outdoors with one other household – and is easily accompanied by roast potatoes, green beans and carrots or any side dishes you prefer.
A roast that contains multiple birds encased within one another sounds like the culinary equivalent of a Russian doll. This dish has a long heritage in this country which James Alexander Fine Foods is helping to promote. In Tudor England, a turkey stuffed with goose, then chicken, partridge and pigeon was encased in a pastry coffin pie crust. This presumably kept the meats moist as the dish was cooked on an open fire. During the Victorian era the multiple bird roast became popular as a Christmas special. Over in the United States a deboned chicken inside a deboned duck inside a deboned turkey – goes by the somewhat clumsy name of turkducken. Substitute the turkey with a goose and you get a gooducken. I think the English title of three bird roast is far more elegant. Whatever name you prefer, the process of stuffing birds inside one another is called engastration as the birds are placed within the gastric passage of the bird above. The smallest bird which is placed in the middle, is filled with stuffing. Pity the chef who is called upon to produce a 12 bird roast – turkey, goose, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon squab, Aylesbury duck, Barbary duck, poussin, guinea fowl, mallard and quail.
For my taste, the three bird roast is the perfect number of birds but if you like you can order a four or five bird roast from James Alexander Fine Foods. It arrives ready to cook with precise instructions according to the weight of the roast. I found this very easy to follow and within the hour was sitting down to my roast dinner, served with truffle honey. This will delight those with a taste for sweet and musky with their meat. Since I do not have much of a sweet tooth, I served an apple cider relish as an alternative.
James Alexander Fine Foods is based in Penrith, Cumbria and has plenty on its website to order online from meat boxes to smoked salmon, chicken or duck. There is a comprehensive list of Cumbrian pork, lamb, beef and game.
I had a taste of a couple of other products from the online shop including pork sausages and smoked pancetta. Looking at the porkies, I suddenly felt in need of a sausage sarnie so set about caramelising a couple of red onions while I baked the sausages. You could of course fry or grill the sausages. I had a jar of cider jelly in the fridge and since pork and apples are a match made in heaven, I used the jelly as a relish. Grainy mustard would go well too. A warmed baguette seemed the perfect bread to use but you could opt for a thickly cut wholemeal or sourdough instead. A few lettuce leaves add some greenery and texture.
A pack of smoked pancetta is always a treat. When I have self-catered in Italy, I love how one can buy pancetta in the smallest superette. A little goes a long way as it is so full of flavour. With Italian recipes in mind, my thoughts flew to Gennaro Contaldo, a charismatic chef I was fortunate to watch in action online during a recent cook-along. I always trust his recipes and found one for pancetta and parsnips. This intrigued me as I would not have paired the two in my mind, less used parsnips with pasta. This is what I enjoy about discovering new ideas in the kitchen. Talented chefs know how to put ingredients together creatively and I am happy to follow where they lead.
The pasta sauce was quick and very easy to prepare, the thinly sliced parsnips were meltingly sweet and juicy. I paired it with tagliatelle for a satisfying lunch. A green salad and a plate of cherry tomatoes were all that was needed to cut through the richness of the sauce.
Order your three bird roast now from the James Alexander website
A quick and tasty pasta with sweet parsnip and pancetta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 strips pancetta halved
- 2 parsnips peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 red chilli thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 250 grams pasta tagliatelle works well
- 2 -3 sprigs thyme leaves picked
- 30 grams Parmesan grated
Boil water and cook the tagliatelle. Drain when cooked, reserving a few spoons of pasta water.
Gently heat olive oil in a pan
Add the pancetta and saute gently. Don't allow to crisp.
Add the onion and the sliced parsnips and chilli. Keep stirring
Add leaves from a couple of sprigs of thyme
Add a few spoons of pasta cooking water
Season gently. Remember the pancetta is salty
Cook for 2 - 3 minutes
Add drained pasta to the pan and stir to combine
Add grated parmesan
If you are looking for something even easier to prepare, we recommend Noble House Prepared