A quick and simple dish of eggs and pheasant. Serves one or two.
One of the old rules of cookery is that rich indulgence requires long, slow cooking, hours of painstaking care and attention, and a bottle of red. This recipe for pheasant and leek gratin challenges those preconceptions but the wine, of course, as it is still very welcome. It also breaks a commonly held recipe construct — that you must not serve pheasant with poultry. I have never known why this was the case and I’ve not seen it written down anywhere, but look around and you will find very few recipes that do. Perhaps it’s a double protein issue.
This is also something a bit different for those of us who feel we have had our fill, by this point in the season, of roast and casseroled pheasant. It’s a grand thing to be the person who takes 20 birds home from the syndicate every Saturday but if you’ve only got a few ways to cook them up your sleeve, you’ll be pretty bored, pretty quickly. This gratin could be the answer to that conundrum.
Recipe for pheasant and leek gratin
- A little butter
- 2 pheasant breasts or 4 thighs, boned
- A sprig of thyme
- A dash of white wine
- 1 small leek or half a medium leek
- 100ml cream
- ¼ pint of stock 1 tsp each of chopped parsley, tarragon, rosemary and spring onion
- Enough breadcrumbs to sprinkle over the top
- 50g good mature cheddar, grated
- 2 eggs
For this dish, the grill will need to be heated up, but perhaps not straight away.
- First, melt a little butter in a good, solid omelette pan.
- Dice the pheasant breasts, or even thighs — both will work well here. Add the pheasant to the pan and season. Add the thyme leaves, picked from the stems.
- Once the meat has firmed up a little over a moderate heat, add a dash of white wine, along with the well-washed and roughly chopped leek. Sweat it for a minute or two before adding the cream and stock. Simmer gently until the liquid has reduced by half and thickened, by which time the pheasant should be cooked.
- Turn off the heat. Mix all the chopped herbs and spring onion together with the breadcrumbs and the grated cheese. Now is the time to put the grill on.
- Gently crack both the eggs on to the warm pheasant mixture. Sprinkle over the breadcrumb mix and place the pan under the grill for about three minutes, or until the topping is golden and crisp. The eggs should set well in this time; ideally, the yolks should be a little soft.
- This dish is seriously indulgent and therefore I see no good reason why it shouldn’t be accompanied by a nice glass of something special and preferably red.