What better way to use a tender new-season bird than to cook it so it just melts in the mouth? A fricassée is a dish of fried or stewed pieces of meat, which are sautéed in butter and served in a white sauce.

Ingredients (serves two)

•Two skinned pheasant breasts•the grated zest and juice of one lemon•butter olive oil•4tsp fresh or 2tsp dried thyme•chicken or vegetable Oxo cube to make half a pint of stock•1tsp of cornflour mixed in a mug with 2tbsp cold water two sticks of celery, very finely chopped•half a cup of peas•two spring onions, very finely chopped•garlic, very finely chopped •fresh chives, chopped• single cream•salt and black pepper

Method

1. Pick the leaves off the thyme and place in a sealable Tupperware container. Add the grated zest and juice of the lemon.

2. Take each breast and, between two sheets of cling film, tap with a rolling pin to fl atten them out as thinly as possible. Remove them and place the breasts fl at into the lemon juice and leave covered overnight in the fridge, basting and turning occasionally.

3. Season the chopped celery, spring onion and garlic and fry them in a little butter and oil until translucent — then place them on a plate.

4. Lay one pheasant breast flat and spread a tablespoonful of the celery mixture on it, then roll the breast up, securing it with six or so cocktail sticks. Repeat with the second breast, reserving the remaining celery mixture.

5. Gently fry the pheasant in a little butter and oil so it browns, then add the leftover lemon marinade and the stock and bring it to the boil. Turn it down to a simmer, and baste and turn it occasionally as it cooks uncovered. After 10 minutes, add the cornflower mixture, which should thicken the sauce. Continue to cook and baste for a further two minutes, then place the pheasant on a warm plate and cover with foil. Discard the cocktail sticks.

6. Bring the sauce up to the boil, add the remainder of the celery and the peas and cook for a few minutes. Just before serving, add a splash of cream, mix well and then pour the sauce over the game. Garnish with chopped chives and enjoy!

Tips

Celery can be a bit “stringy”, so snap the thin end, bend it over and pull it down to remove the strings.