Festy cock

Scottish cuisine is full of dishes with ancient names that seem fairly odd to the modern tongue; Cullen skink, skirlie, rumbledthumps, and clapshot all spring immediately to mind. However ‘festy cock’ seems to take this tradition to a whole new level, but what exactly is it?

Whether celebrating Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Pancake Day, or another variation, the day before the start of Lent has become synonymous with pancakes. In Scotland this was traditionally with a form of oatmeal pancakes, in The Scots Kitchen, F. Marian McNeill writes of ‘sauty bannocks’ consisting of a thick batter of oatmeal, eggs, beef bree and salt, which was then cooked on a girdle being eaten on ‘Festern’s E’en’. The alternative, festy cock, was more like an oatcake in consistency, contains no fat and is fired in a kiln rather than on the flames. It may be that it was shaped like this to celebrate cock fighting which was another Lentern tradition, or possibly as the cockerel meat would be given up during the period.

The recipe is written down as simply fine ground oatmeal mixed with some water, formed into the shape of a bird and baked in a kiln. My interpretation is simply 4 parts water to ten parts fine oatmeal and a pinch of salt, this can then be scaled up to however many people you wish to feed. I baked it in a hot oven at 220C as I am assuming that the kiln of the past would’ve been hot and relatively uncontrolled heat in comparison to modern ovens. The festy cock pictured here was cut by hand, you can certainly have some fun with this, however a cockerel cookie cutter would cut down on the need for artistic skills.

Festy cock

100g fine oatmeal plus more for rolling
40ml luke warm water
Pinch salt to taste

Method

Mix the water into the oatmeal gradually to form a stiff dough like consistency;

‘Flour’ the worktop using a little more oatmeal and roll the dough to a thickness of 3-4mm;

Place on the baking sheet and cut out your cockerel shape or shapes;

Bake in a hot oven at 220C for 10 minutes until the oats are cooked and the starting to turn golden brown.

First published online in Scotsman Food and Drink

About Graeme

I want to tell the world of the natural larder and eclectic cuisine of Scotland

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