Woodcock with Salsify and Cavalo Nero

Try Matt Tebbutt's hearty British dish of roast woodcock with garlicky toast, stir-fried salsify, black kale and scented bread sauce
By Matt Tebbutt
Woodcock with Salsify and Cavalo Nero
  • Rating:
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: medium


  • 1 woodcock, guts left in and trussed in the traditional way with the beak, legs and body together
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 clove ofcrushed garlic
  • 25 g butter
  • a few strips of salted pork fat orstreaky bacon
  • a splash of port
  • bread sauce, to serve

For the toast

  • 1 slice of stale loaf country bread, cut on the angle
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

For the salsify

  • salsify, (200g per person), peeled, sliced and blanched
  • olive oil, for frying

For the cavalo nero

  • cavolo nero, stripped from the stalks
  • olive oil
  • clove garlic
  • thyme


1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. Check the bird over for any stray feathers or loose shot. Stuff the herbs and garlic in the cavity and spear the bird with its own beak. Season with salt and pepper, then in a hot pan seal the bird all over ensuring a good golden colour on the breasts.

2. Smear the butter over the bird, lay the pork fat or bacon over it and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven, deglaze the pan with the bird still in it using the port, then leave the bird to rest for 5 minutes.

4. For the toast: preheat the grill. Toast the bread or deep-fry for a more traditional result. Rub the toast with the garlic clove. Tip the bird beak up and with a spoon remove the guts from the bird. Smear these onto the toast and put under the grill for a few minutes to cook.

5. For the salsify: stir-fry the blanched salisfy in a little olive oil until just tender.

6. For the cavalo nero: toss the leaves in a hot pan with the olive oil, garlic and thyme until wilted.

7. To serve, sit the bird on the toast and tip the resting juices over. Serve with bread sauce, salsify and cavalo nero.

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