Culinary legend Mark Hix knows game and this mouth-watering pheasant recipe is quick, simple and just brilliant, says Tim Maddams. Serves four.

Mark Hix is a good friend, a keen Shot and a vocal advocate of game meat. He grew up in West Bay, near Bridport, Dorset, and after training at Weymouth College, moved to London where he worked under chef and restaurateur Anton Mosimann.
He shot to fame cooking at Le Caprice and The Ivy in London before starting a whole host of top cooking enterprises and eateries, and was a regular chef for years at the Oscars official after-party in LA.

The thing I have always loved about Mark’s food is that it matches his personality — it’s unashamedly what it is, it’s very well done, but there is no faff nor over-refinement. It’s never showy, while always being brilliant.

This recipe for pheasant escalope is a prime example of what I mean — it’s so understated as to almost seem obvious, but the simplicity belies the skill. It is one of those dishes we all wish we had come up with. While I’m sure Mark would never want to take the credit for what is an adaptation of a classic dish, this version has a certain style and rustic charm that are his alone. You will enjoy cooking this simple dish and making it your own – 
it works just as well with partridge but you will need more than one each.

However carefully you cook it, pheasant can get a bit dry, but I’ve found that brief pan-frying in dishes like this brings it up a treat. You could serve this with all sorts of things, from a salad to pasta tossed in tomato sauce. When October comes, it could also make a hearty breakfast, with 
a glass of spicy tomato juice before a day 
in the field.

Pheasant escalope recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless pheasant breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 30-40g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable or corn oil 
for frying
  • A good knob of butter
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 4 anchovies, halved lengthways
  • 1⁄2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2-3 pickled walnuts, quartered

Method

  1. Put one breast on a sheet of cling film that is at least double its size. With a meat or cutlet bat — a rolling 
pin or side of a cleaver will do the job just as well — carefully bat out each breast into a neat 1cm-thick escalope.
  2. Season with salt and pepper then lightly coat with flour, patting off any excess with your hands, before passing the escalopes through the beaten egg and finally through the breadcrumbs to coat.
  3. Heat about 1cm of oil in a frying pan and cook the escalopes for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown, then add a knob of butter 
at the end of cooking and turn them once more.
  4. Meanwhile lightly fry the remaining eggs and place one on each escalope, then arrange the anchovies around the yolk and transfer to warmed plates. Melt the butter gently in a small frying pan until foaming, add the parsley and capers and spoon over the egg and escalopes.
  5. Garnish with the walnuts and serve immediately, as the escalopes can become rather cardboard-like if they hang around too long.

Mark Hix has donated this recipe in aid of The Country Food Trust.