Pollo del Cardinale, An Italian Inspired Christmas Eve Dinner


The idea of using meat with fruits is not a new idea to me, but somehow I have never attempted to infuse the two spectrum of ingredients together in a single dish. A couple of days before Christmas eve, while browsing through La Cucina Italiana (Four Seasons of Italian Cooking), I chanced upon the recipe for Quaglie del Cardinale – Quails with Cherries. It was ideal and striking. Not only because of the quaint picture of two delicious looking roasted quails laid side by side with a serving of cherries, but it was also the concept of marrying the fruity sweet with the tender savouriness of the poultry. But I didn’t want to travel to Holland Village just to get quails, so for last week’s Christmas Eve dinner, I decided upon Pollo del Cardinale (Chicken with Cherries) served with Roasted Pumpkin and Quail Eggs in a side of Orange and Pomegranate Sauce.

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The recipe calls for very simple ingredients such as  cherries, bacon, olive oil, garlic, white wine, meat stock and butter. I bought strawberries, yellow pepper and greens for garnishing. I was well set and intent of creating that fruity and savoury delicacy. Preparation is quick and simple though substituting quails with chicken led me to alter the original recipe a little bit as this involved the use of a whole chicken, but the concept is quite similar.


Mum helped in decorating the entire dish before serve, and its quite obvious that she created a little colourful garden here. Very bright and cherry if you asked me. The chicken was nicely roasted with a delicate hint of cherry and bacon sweet through the meat. It goes well with the traditional brown sauce and the Orange and Pomegranate Sauce I made. However, ideally quails should be used as the stuffing of cherry and bacon is perhaps suited to permeate more effectively because of its smaller size. Nevertheless, this is one recipe that will get me cookin’!


Pollo del Cardinale (Chicken with Cherries)

  • 15 Fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 250 grams bacon or prosciutto, diced
  • 1 large chicken
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 cup of light meat stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • cherries for garnish
  • Salt
  1. Mix cherries, ginger and diced bacon together. Stuff mixture into chicken. Tie chicken legs together with string and use toothpicks through the opening to keep stuffing in.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
  3. Place chicken in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt. Add wine and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned on the top side.
  4. Remove pan from oven, turn the chicken over. Add the meat stock. Bake for another 20-25 minutes until nicely browned on the reversed side.
  5. Ensure chicken is well cooked by piercing the inner thigh and if the juice runs clear, its ok.


Roasted Pumpkin with Herbs

  • 1 Whole pumpkin, skinned and chopped into bite size pieces.
  • Salt to taste
  • 3-4 sprigs of Marjoram and Oregano, chopped / 2-3 teaspoon of each dried herb
  • Ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 220 degree Celsius.
  2. Place pumpkin in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. Spread chopped herbs evenly over the pan.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes until pumpkins are tender.
  6. Serve.

Orange and Pomegranate Sauce

  • Juices from 2 whole oranges
  • 200 ml natural yoghurt (if unsweetened, mix with 2 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1 Pomegranate, peeled
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  1. Heat pan over very low fire.
  2. Pour in orange juice, chicken stock and yoghurt.
  3. Cook for 5-10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
  4. Strain sauce using a sieve.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate before serve.