If you take a walk or drive in our countryside through the winter months I’m sure you will see plenty of pheasants and partridge running through farmers’ fields looking for something to peck at.
They seem to make up what is an English winter. Pheasants were introduced to this country a long time ago but it is unknown if it was the Romans or Normans who should be thanked.
The pheasant season begins on October 1 and runs through to February 1 which should give you plenty of time to try this recipe.
Pheasants spend a lot of time on the ground either pecking at grain or running away from whatever comes near them.
All that time standing around makes the leg meat quite tough so I think it’s best to braise the thighs, roast the breasts and use everything else for stock.
This recipe is one for a cold winter’s day when you need comforting food to warm you up. Served with mashed potatoes and bright greens this could become one of your winter favourites.
Ingredients – serves 4
8 Pheasant thighs
8 Rashers streaky bacon (thin cut)
4 shallots finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 sticks celery finely chopped
300ml dry cider
300ml game or chicken stock
250ml double cream
1. Stretch the bacon and wrap 1 rasher around each pheasant thigh.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole dish and add the onion, garlic and celery – cook for 4 minutes.
3. Add the cider and reduce by half and then add the stock. Bring to the simmer and carefully place the thighs into the pot.
4. Cover with a lid and place in a preheated oven 150c gas 3. Cook for 75 minutes and then take off the lid. Cook for a further 20 minutes to crisp up the bacon.
5. Take the casserole from the oven and remove the thighs -Keep them warm in the bottom of the oven.
6. Skim any fat from the liquid in the pan and put onto a heat. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Taste the sauce and season if necessary. Arrange 2 thighs in each bowl and pour over the sauce.