One pheasant left at the back of the freezer drawer! These days I buy them in the supermarket and freeze a couple when the season is ending. But there was a time when my father used to bring home a brace on Friday nights (price: £1 ) and we would pluck them and draw (gut) them together. Years later he taught me this recipe. Choose a lidded casserole dish which comfortably fits the pheasant. It needs to be used on the hob and in the oven.Amanda
- Ingredients: one pheasant, fresh or fully defrosted, without giblets. A slice of bacon, two or three shallots, the same of carrots, a clove or two of garlic, a bunch of fresh herbs – thyme, sage, marjoram – juniper berries, pepper, salt. 500ml liquid ( water/stock/beer or red wine), one Tbsp butter or olive oil. Potatoes
- Alternative ingredients: any equivalent root vegetables, mushrooms, bay leaf, celeriac, rice, green beans
- Method: Brown the pheasant all over with the bacon and butter or olive oil. Meanwhile, peel and slice all the vegetables. Add them around the bird, along with cloves of garlic, herbs and seasoning. Then add liquid to the height of the pheasant, probably about 500ml. This can be stock, water and a stock cube or a glass of wine plus water. But my father preferred a bottle of proper beer. Here I have used Spitfire Kentish Ale. In any case, if using alcohol add it first and bring to the boil before continuing with the remaining liquid. Cover.
- Make sure the pot is bubbling before transferring to a medium oven for at least 2 hours. After 90 minutes or so take the lid off and check the liquid level – it should have reduced in volume but add more water if in danger of drying out. After another few minutes remove the lid to brown the pheasant. It is worthwhile watching over this period quite carefully.
Finally, by now the pheasant ought to be falling off the bone. You can spoon onto plates as is or boil down some of the liquid to thicken it. Not much of a looker, but tender and flavourful, it can be accompanied by mashed potato, mashed celeriac, mushroom rice or just a spoonful of green beans.
Pheasant is the bird that keeps on giving – plenty of leftovers for making soup, sandwiches, and tacos.