This Italian-style extravaganza is a luxury version of a Sunday roast. Use whatever game's available, or combine game birds with everyday chicken. If you give your butcher some notice, he can get you almost anything that's in season and prepare it for you!
- 1 pheasant, spatchcocked, washed and patted dry
- 1 guinea fowl or 2 14 pounds chicken, spatchcocked, washed and patted dry
- 1 partridge, washed and patted dry
- 2 wood pigeons, washed and patted dry
- 4 quails, washed and patted dry
- A small bunch fresh rosemary
- A small bunch fresh thyme
- 1 lemon or orange, zested
- 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 sticks celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 Italian sausages
- A few sprigs fresh bay, leaves picked
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound polenta
- A wineglass red wine (recommended: Chianti)
- 1/2 cup butter, divided
- 2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to full whack about 500 degrees F.
Either ask your butcher to spatchcock the guinea fowl or chicken, and the pheasant for you, or have a go at doing it yourself. Turn the bird upside down and cut underneath the legs with a good pair of scissors. Remove the bony part of the carcass that has no meat on it (bearing in mind that you want to save the incredible meat around the legs) and open the bird out like a book. You can then stuff the cavities of the other birds with flavorings - a sprig of rosemary, a sprig of thyme and a little orange or lemon zest.
Place the onion, celery and carrots in a large roasting pan (or 2 small ones) and lay the sausages and birds on top. Throw in the bay leaves and the rest of the thyme and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and massage it into each bird. Season all the meat generously. Place in the preheated oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, turning the birds a few times, until the meat is juicy and cooked through to the bone.
After half an hour, bring 1 quart of salted water to the boil in a non-stick pan and whisk in the polenta. Turn the heat right down, place a lid on so it's ajar (otherwise the pan might spit hot polenta at you!) and simmer for 50 minutes, stirring it as often as you can. If it starts to become too thick, add some more hot water.
Remove the birds from the oven, lift them out of the pan and keep warm. Put the pan on the burner, pour in the wine and simmer gently to make a quick sauce. Then see to the polenta - it'll need some serious perking up now. Stir in about 3/4 of the butter and all the grated Parmesan. Once smooth, taste and season if required. It should now be delicious! Spoon all the polenta onto a big board or platter, spread it out evenly and put to 1 side to firm up a little.
Give your sauce a stir and add the rest of the butter. Strain it through a sieve into a pan, pressing down hard. Cut the bigger birds into drumstick thighs and breast pieces and place with all the other birds on top of your polenta. Slice the sausages and add to the pile. Spoon the red wine sauce over the top and finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Put the board in the middle of the table and let everyone dive in. A fantastic feast!
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