Full of flavour and crunch, Mark Hix’s gamey take on that Chinese takeaway favourite sweet and sour is best enjoyed with a cold Tiger beer. Serves four.
I love a game pie. I love pheasant, partridge and pretty much all game, cooked in all sorts of ways. Pheasant is such a staple in our house, as I expect it is in many Shooting Times readers’ homes, that we can on occasion run out of enthusiasm for our familiar, much-loved, tried-and-tested recipes.
At times like that, it’s possible to find yourself reaching for the Chinese takeaway menu, even though our nearest is seven miles away. I can’t remember the last time I actually gave in and ordered a takeaway, but it is safe to say that most of us love a good Chinese meal.
I have often thought of doing a few Chinese takeaway classics with pheasant and partridge, as I often do with mallard and venison — and in true chef style, Mark Hix has beaten me to it with this version of the classic sweet and sour. It is much lighter than any you will find on the high street, with a lot more authenticity to the flavours. You could adapt it to work with partridge, or use pheasant thighs in place of breast, chopped rabbit, even minced goose rolled into balls and carefully treated through the flour and buttermilk bath.
You can embellish this sweet and sour pheasant recipe with flowers carved from a carrot and you could even rig up a spinny thing in the middle of the table and stretch to a few bottles of Tiger beer. You might not need all that… but a few prawn crackers wouldn’t go amiss.
Do try it. It is a quick, simple and inspiring way to cook with hard-won game birds and furthermore, making your own Chinese, rather than ordering it from a menu, will save you a few quid.
Sweet and sour pheasant recipe
- 4 skinless pheasant breasts
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Vegetable or corn oil for frying
For the batter
- 200g Self-raising flour
- 120g buttermilk or yogurt
For the sauce
- 2 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
- 50g root ginger, scraped and grated
- 50ml chinese black vinegar
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 200ml chicken stock
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cornflour, diluted in a little water
- 2 red chillies, trimmed and finely chopped
1. First, make the sauce: put the shallots, ginger, vinegar, honey, ketchup, stock and soy sauce in a heavy-based saucepan and simmer until the liquid has reduced by one third. Stir in enough of the diluted cornflour to thicken it, then add the chilli and simmer for a couple more minutes. The sauce should be a thick, coating consistency. If not, continue simmering until it’s thickened.
2. Preheat 8cm of oil to 160°C to 180°C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer.
3. Have three bowls ready, one with the flour, seasoned, one with the buttermilk and one empty.
4. Cut the breasts into rough 2cm to 3cm chunks, coat in flour, shake off any excess, put them through the buttermilk and back through the flour. Fry for a few minutes, stirring with a slotted spoon, until crisp and golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
5. To serve, transfer to a warmed serving dish, spoon over the sauce, scatter over a few sprigs of coriander.
Sweet and sour pheasant recipe kindly donated by Mark Hix in support of The Country Food Trust. The Country Food Trust has provided food for more than half a million people in need or in food poverty, supplying over 1,000 charities throughout the whole of the UK. In 2019 alone, the CFT delivered 20 tonnes of pheasant breast meat.