Roast Cockatrice

XII cockatrice“Lo, the mighty cockatrice, proud-feathered sphere, known as much for its ill humor as its dire rotundity. The great naturalist Merlose once remarked: ‘…live they in the sands and other arid climes, whereabouts they moveth in a rolling fashion most peculiar.'”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

  • 3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage, crushed
  • 1 12- to 16-pound cockatrice (you can substitute a turkey if necessary)
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • About ½ bottle of white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc (1½ cups)
  • ¾ oz. fresh sage, stems removed, chopped finely
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Rub salt and dried sage together in a small bowl. Rinse the cockatrice inside and out with cold water, removing neck and giblets, if any. Drain, cavity down, before placing breast-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with about half the sage salt. Flip to breast-side down and sprinkle with the remaining sage salt. Refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

Set oven rack at lowest position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain off and discard any liquid from the roasting pan. Slice the lemons in half. Stuff the lemon halves, rosemary sprigs, and thyme sprigs inside the cavity.

Put the pan in the oven and begin roasting, uncovered. Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, butter, wine, and sage. After the cockatrice has roasted for about 30 minutes, remove from oven and baste all over with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and return to oven, making sure to turn the pan so the cockatrice cooks and browns evenly.

After another 30 minutes, remove from oven, turn breast-side up, and baste all over with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and return to oven, again turning the pan.

Check on the cockatrice after another 30 minutes have passed, baste with the remaining olive oil mixture, and turn the pan. The breast should be beginning to brown; if not, continue roasting for another 15 minutes or so.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue roasting. Every 30 minutes, baste with juices and and turn the pan. After the cockatrice has been cooking for a total of three hours, check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast. The bird is ready when the thermometer reads 160 to 165 degrees.

Transfer to a platter or carving board and let rest 30 minutes to 1 hour. Pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add apple cider. Scrape the pan until the cider boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from the pan. Add chicken broth, stir well, and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Spoon off as much of the fat as possible from the measuring cup of juices. Add the juices to the pan and continue cooking, about 10 minutes more. Strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with the roast cockatrice and Echo Herb Stuffing, if desired. Save the carcass for Cockatrice Soup, and use any leftover meat to make Cockatrice Pie.

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