A christmas feast

Double-stuffed chicken & mango pud.

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To make double-stuffed chickens for 8 diners you will need:
2 generously sized fowls

For Aunt Violet’s stuffing:
Two slices of bread crumbs
1 onion
2 teaspoons butter
A couple of sprigs of parsley, majoram, thyme and sage
2 slices bacon
1 egg
Salt and pepper on demand

For megastuffing:
500g minced pork or sausage meat or a combination of the two
1 onion
2 slices of bread crumbs
2 tablespoons shelled green pistachios
250g streaky bacon
A couple of sprigs of parsley, majoram, thyme and sage

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For a fresh and delectable mango pud, here are the ingredients for 8 diners:
4 mangoes
2 or 3 large spanspek
1 plain yoghurt
1 container of cream
The zest of four lemons
30ml vanilla essence.

Most traditional Christmas food assumes that we all live at the North Pole and need huge amounts of fat and salt to cope with frost bite and snow blindness. So instead of whole suckling pigs, turkeys and geese, here’s a local take on the national bird of Africa, and a homage to the mango, undoubtedly the most astonishing fruit that ever grew in the Garden of Eden. 

Right. Marshall your thoughts and collect your kitchen tools. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Rinse out the body cavity of one of the chickens. Beginning with Aunt Violet’s stuffing, turn the bread into bread crumbs with a food processor, which does the job in a split second or two. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Pour a little canola or sunflower oil into a heavy-bottomed frying pan and sweat the onion slices until they are soft and translucent.

Remove and reserve under cover. Cut the bacon into 10mm sections and fry in the same pan until they are crisp. Coarsely chop the fresh herbs or if these aren’t available, replace them with 1 teaspoon each of the dried variety. Separate the yolk and add this as well as all the other ingredients (sweated onions, herbs, bread crumbs and butter) to the crisped bacon in the frying pan. Remove from the heat and mix all the ingredients within the pan. Using your hands or a large spoon (hands are more efficient) stuff the mixture into the pre-rinsed body cavity of one of the fowls. Pack it in tight and if necessary, sew shut the cavity with a needle and thread. Place the raw stuffed fowl somewhere safe and get moving on the next one.

For megastuffing, the procedure is a little different. In this case the stuffing is produced as a side dish for the meal rather than an add-on component for the chicken. Begin by selecting a standard bread pan. Line it with rashers of streaky bacon. Mix the meat components, deciding whether to use pure minced pork, sausage meat or a combination of the two. Add the two slices of bread crumbs in a food processor, the raw, finely chopped onion, and the fresh chopped herbs. Shell the green pistachios and add them to the mixture.

Using your hands – in this case, there is no better way – mix all the ingredients together and place inside the bacon-lined bread tin. Fold the strips of bacon over the top and bake this magnificent collection of strong tastes in the oven at 180ºC for 60 minutes or so. You can of course do this at the same time you roast the fowls. In each case pour a little extra-virgin olive oil over each fowl, season with generous amounts of coarsely ground black pepper and roast at 180ºC for 40 minutes per kilogram plus an additional 20 minutes.

This will give you the roast chicken of your dreams complete with two totally different but utterly marvellous stuffings. And what about vegetables I hear you ask? Keep it simple, is my suggestion. Some rice, some baked sweet potatoes, a whole steamed cauliflower. Now for dessert. Traditionally-minded Christmas diners might like to consider vanilla ice cream under a whiskey and honey sauce.

The sauce couldn’t possibly be easier to make.
Heat a cup or two of honey in a frying pan. Pour in 50ml of whiskey or even brandy, let the alcohol boil off, stir and pour this highly fragrant molten lava over the ice cream. Alternatively, you might like something a little less sweet. For that, see the recipe for mango pud.

Mango pud



Ensure the fruits are ripe and chilled. Prepare the peeled and de-pipped mangoes and spanspek by cutting them into thick longitudinal slices. Whip the cream. To do this best I use a ball whisk attached to a hand-held blender. The plan behind cream whipping is to transform it into a stiff, non-liquid mass but not to go over the top and turn it into butter.

Add the vanilla essence to the yoghurt and stir well to evenly distribute the flavour. Arrange a couple of chilled slices of mango and spanspek on each dessert plate. Spoon whipped cream over the fruit then pour over some of the vanilla-enhanced plain yoghurt. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of sticky brown caramel sugar over the arrangement.

Now for the zesting business. The zest is the outer layer of the lemon and not the entire skin. The best way to obtain the zest is with a patented zesting tool which removes the zest in thin strips and in the hands of novice zesters, quite a bit of human knuckle skin as well. Alternatively, with a bit of focus and care, the little blade on an expertly wielded Swiss Army Knife does the same thing. Once you’ve got the zest, either arrange it in a neat green pile on the side of each plate or sprinkle it over the top. Enjoy.