Thanks to Rick Stein and James Murphy for their generous donation of this recipe and photograph to the Country Food Trust.
Many will not associate Rick Stein with game so much as seafood but he is a master of all things wild and wonderful in the kitchen. This apparently simple recipe needs careful execution.
I recommend using cock birds because the stronger flavour and slightly tougher meat, even early in the season, will lend itself well to this timely dish.
People often do not think about which pheasants to cook together. As soon as the birds are shot they are fastened in a brace, which is always one cock to one hen. However traditional this might be, it does not take account of the differing ways the birds need to be cooked — especially as the season progresses — once prepared, plucked and dressed. Has the time come to hand our birds in same sex pairs?
Cock birds are invariably larger than hens so will be tougher. The cock’s tendency to scratch about and roam further adds more texture to the meat. Whenever you attempt a recipe involving more than one pheasant, try to make sure they are of similar sizes or adjust the cooking time with a bias towards the larger of the two.
Rick suggests the use of chicken stock but if you have pheasant stock, or partridge stock, feel free to use that. Indeed, this recipe would work equally well with partridge.
Pot roasted pheasant recipe with bacon, fennel, leeks and carrots
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cover the pheasants with two bacon rashers and tie them in place with string. Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole, add the prepared vegetables, herbs, juniper berries, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper.
- Turn the birds over once or twice, cover and sweat gently over a low heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Rest the pheasants on top of the vegetables, recover and transfer the casserole to the oven for 45 minutes.
- Uncover the casserole, turn the oven up to 200°C and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the bacon is crisp and golden and the pheasants are cooked.
- Lift the birds on to a plate, cover and keep warm. Add the stock to the vegetables and simmer until reduced to good sauce consistency. Remove the bay leaves and thyme and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Lift the pheasants on to a board, cut off the string then lift off the bacon. Cut off the legs and cut each one in two at the joint. Cut the breast meat away from the carcass in two whole pieces and slice the meat diagonally.
- To serve, spoon some vegetables and sauce into each warmed plates and place a piece of thigh meat on top. Put the sliced breast meat on top of that and rest a drumstick alongside. Serve with potatoes and sauerkraut.
Ingredients: 1 pheasant 1 onion, roughly chopped 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped Goose fat Salt and freshly ground black…
Game cookery recipe: A fantastic game cookery recipe using pheasant and an excuse to raid the freezer!
Recipe kindly donated by Rick Stein CBE.