This Italian recipe creates a dish that explodes with flavour. Saltimbocca translates into [it] leaps into the mouth and when you combine Italian Parma ham and pheasant (fagiano), you’ll have a supper dish that’s truly authentic.

Ingredients (for two)

• two pheasant breasts, skinned • fresh or dried thyme leaves

• eight slices of Parma ham • plain fl our • olive oil • butter • black pepper • Marsala or other fortified wine

Method

1. Place each pheasant breast between two sheets of cling film and, using a rolling pin, gently tap it out thinly and evenly to around 7in diameter and 5mm thick.

2. Remove the film and lay the breasts on a lightly flour-dusted surface. Sprinkle over some thyme and lay four slices of ham on top of each. Using a sieve, lightly dust flour to cover the ham.

3. Melt 3⁄4oz of butter and a tablespoonful of olive oil in a large, flat frying pan. Season the melting mixture well with pepper.

4. Using a flat spatula, gently lift the pheasant breasts and lay each ham-side down in the bubbling oil/butter. Fry on a medium heat for 1 1⁄2 minutes then turn them over and fry the other side for another 2 1⁄2 to 3 minutes. Check to see if they are cooked through: if not, repeat this stage. Remove and keep warm.

5. Increase the heat, add a splash of water and scrape around the pan with the spatula to loosen any cooked pieces, then add a large tot of Marsala and stir while boiling to make a sauce.

6. Serve the game ham-side up and drizzle the sauce over it.

Tips

You’ll never get the pheasant exactly the same thickness all over, but try to make it as even as possible. Parma ham isn’t cheap (eight slices will cost you around £3), but it is worth it for the taste. You could use port or medium sherry as an alternative to Marsala.