Double-stuffed chickens

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 sucking 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.

Double-stuffed chickens
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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:

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  • 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

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.