Bird’s head grilled over birch charcoal, from Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning. Photo by Erik Olsson

Read Magnus Nilsson’s simple tips on roasting the perfect bird

The chef and Phaidon author shares some straightforward, effective culinary advice with Monocle Radio

Some of the recipes in Magnus Nilsson’s voluminous new book, Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End, might be a little bit complicated for novice chefs. Afterall, Nilsson didn’t push this remote Swedish hostelry into the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list without a little innovation.

However, in a recent interview the chef and Phaidon author ran through his tips for one of the world’s simplest and most popular recipes: a roast bird.

Speaking to Monocle Radio’s Markus Hippi, Nilsson described how a roast chicken, cooked on a Sunday in his household could last well into the following week, providing meat for sandwiches and stock for soups and stews.

Smaller households could settle for a more modest bird, such as a pigeon, while big parties might want to plump for a Christmas turkey or a goose. Whichever one you choose, Nilsson recommends buying organic, and spending a bit more to ensure the bird has been kept under humane conditions.

He also counsels against  vacuum-packed poultry, “because I think it makes the skin wet”, he says. The first thing Nilsson does when he gets his chosen bird home is strip off any packaging, and leave the meat on a rack in his fridge to dry out. “That gives a much nicer texture to the skin,” he explains.  The rest of his instructions are equally easy to follow, as he explains, “I do the roasting very, very simply.”

“I rub salt and pepper into the skin,” he says, “I put half a clove of garlic, half an onion and some bay leaves into a roasting pan, and add a very, very light coating of cooking oil on the bird itself.


Magnus Nilsson
Magnus Nilsson

“Then you start roasting at a very high temperature, 230, 250 degrees celsius [446-482 fahrenheit], until you see colouration. It shouldn’t be fully coloured, but you should see some colouration. Then you turn it down to, say 130, 140 degree celsius [226-284 fahrenheit] and you can insert a thermometer to keep a track on the core temperature of the bird.

“Remember, you need the insides up to a decent temperature of say 65 degrees celsius [149 fahrenheit], otherwise it's not going to be very tender, unless it's a small bird, like a pigeon.

“Once you’ve raised that temperature and the bird is nicely coloured, take the bird out of the oven and leave it at room temperature for half an hour before carving.”


Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End
Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End

And that’s it. Did your Christmas dinner just get a little less complicated? To hear the full interview go here; and for more of Nilsson’s tips inside and outside the kitchen order a copy of Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End here.