Canon Angus MacQueen’s Roasted Cormorant

Canon Angus MacQueen’s Roasted Cormorant

Canon Angus MacQueen’s recipe for cormorant, as recounted to me the day of his arrival as the new incumbent of the Parish of South Uist.

When I was a boy, my brothers and I used to sail out the Monach islands in the autumn to net cormorants from the cliffs. The taste is quite extraordinary, and my mother had a special recipe for the bird which I use to this day.

The cormorant must be a large plump one, well fed from the summer. It should be hung in a dark place for 2 weeks to season the flesh. When the first maggot is spotted, the seasoning is complete.

First pluck the bird, using a taper to singe off all the wiry underdown. Then plunge the bird briefly into boiling water to blanch the skin.

Stuff the bird with a large onion. I say large – my father rest his soul was a keen vegetable grower, and year after year he would take home the prize for the largest onion at the Stoneybridge show. You would be surprised at the size of onion you can fit in a cormorant, especially if you use a wipe of lard to ease its passage from this world to the next.

The bird is then completely encased in a slurry of salt, so that no part of it can be seen, then the whole covered in kelp to prevent it from drying out too much. This entire bundle is transported to the oven, and cooked at a moderate temperature for 5 hours.

You can imagine the aromas that filled our kitchen, and the wonderful anticipation we boys felt as we counted down the hours.

Once the bird is fully cooked, carefully peel away the kelp, crack open the casing of salt, throw the cormorant in the bin and eat the onion.

Happy Birthday from Martin