The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Pheasant leg cassoulet

A traditional French dish with a wild game twist, this tasty recipe is an ideal way to make use of any remaining pheasant legs, says Cai Ap Bryn. Serves 4 to 6.

pheasant leg cassoulet

Cai Ap Bryn - Mixed Game Cassoulet

Pheasant leg cassoulet


  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • Olive oil
  • 100g pancetta
  • 6 sausages
  • 6 pheasant legs
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tin cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 bouquet garni


  1. In a casserole dish, soften the onions, celery and carrots in a little oil. After 10 minutes, remove from the dish and set aside.
  2. In the same dish, brown the pancetta and sausages for 10 minutes, then add the pheasant legs to brown too. Once browned, add the tomato puree over the meat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring it gently so the puree coats the legs and cooks.
  3. Place the vegetables back in the dish, then add both tins of tomatoes, the chicken stock, garlic and beans. Chuck in the bouquet garni, then place the lid on top. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2, then place the cassoulet, still covered, in the oven for 3 hours.
  4. Take off the lid and cook uncovered for a further 20 minutes. This will help reduce the sauce and add extra richness. Remove the dish from the oven, season to your taste and serve with crusty French bread and salted butter.

Notes on pheasant leg cassoulet

It is that time of year when the shooting season is over and there is a hidden bounty lurking in the bottom of your freezer — quite often unlabelled or unidentified. I tend to break down my pheasant carcasses and separate the breasts from the legs. Both cook differently and I prefer to use the breasts for faster recipes such as fajitas, pan-fried in a creamy mushroom sauce or even southern-fried in a burger. (Read more about freezing game.)

The legs follow a different process; they are not as tender as chicken legs or thighs and have less meat, but they work excellently in slow-cooked dishes. I have made plenty of dishes with the legs, from curries and stews to even homemade stock, which works very well.

However, for this week’s recipe I have created a version of a wonderful dish I had in France a few years ago, with a little difference. A cassoulet is a traditional recipe that normally uses duck legs, pork, sausage and white beans, but I’ve used pheasant and wild boar sausages to keep in with the wild game theme. I often make my own sausages but my regular game supplier at Hanks’ Meat & Game provides some of the best wild boar sausages. They work beautifully with this dish and are a real seasonal treat. I have also added some more tomatoes as I really like the richness they bring.

The cassoulet is said to have been created in 1355 in the southern French town of Castelnaudary. The town was under siege by the English and they came up with an early version of the dish using what they had in their stores to feed the masses. The cassoulet has been around and adapted for hundreds of years, providing a good source of protein and carbohydrates, turning cheap cuts into a wonderful meal. It has been much loved ever since.

I like to serve this dish with a traditional baguette, but you could also try creamy mashed potatoes or go without, as the beans provide a healthy amount of carbohydrates.