Pheasant is the perfect base for this rich and flavourful bolognese sauce from The Pig’s James Golding, which uses simple ingredients to fine effect. Serves 10
This recipe for pheasant bolognese is close to my heart. James Golding is a talented chef who is unfazed by simple things like using the ingredients available to you, and his philosophy of allowing the ingredients to set the stage for the menu is one that resonates strongly.
It is a great indicator of how things could get confused. You could be forgiven for thinking that the Italians, with all their passion for life, would be furious at the use of pheasant for this sacred sugo, which originates, as the name suggests, from Bologna, the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, just above Florence.
The opposite is probably more likely. I have eaten this simple stewed mince dish in Bologna made with meats as diverse as horse, beef, pork, boar and venison, so I should imagine that most hardcore Italians would barely raise an eyebrow over the inclusion of pheasant, enthusiastic hunters that they tend to be.
Most Italians would use a mixture of pork and beef mince for their version and far less tomato than you might think appropriate. The one thing I would insist upon, however, is that the pasta is turned through the sauce. The days of piling the sauce on to the pasta are hopefully over, but this is for those who still cling on to that 1970s misunderstanding.
You can make this recipe with anything you like in terms of game and stock. I add a little cinnamon and fresh tomatoes are a great addition. This is a perfect lockdown store cupboard dish. As easy to make, and source the ingredients for, as it is uplifting.
Recipe for pheasant bolognese
- 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1.5kg minced pheasant
- 80g tomato purée
- 250ml red wine (optional)
- 0.5 ltr beef stock — made with a stock cube is fine
- 200g canned chopped tomatoes
- Grated cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Gently cook the chopped onions, crushed garlic cloves and dried thyme leaves in the vegetable oil until soft.
2. Add the pheasant to the pan, turn up the heat and continue to cook until the meat is lightly coloured.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
4. Skim the fat from the top and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Serve with grated cheese and pasta, cooked rice or risotto.
Recipe kindly donated by James Golding. James is group chef director at The Pig in Hampshire, a restaurant with rooms that is known for its ethos of only using locally sourced and foraged ingredients in its menu of uncomplicated and simple British food.