Pheasant is often best kept very simple
It is much stronger meat than your average chicken, is our little pheassie. It is definitely a game bird, not just willing, and packs a fair old punch. You can flavour it all over the place and I once did a tandoori pheasant that certainly had something to say for itself, or would have done had it not just been cooked at three hundred degrees.
But, to the point, you don't have to do anything much, and sometimes it is best to do nothing more than roast it off. So that is what I did.
The bird was already cleaned, so all I needed to do was cook it. It was a medium sized birdie, so in a baster, I heated up some olive oil and unsalted butter till bubbling, then with the extracter going full blast, fried the bird on all sides till nicely brown. I then shoved the lid on and bunged it into a preheated oven at about 180° C. That will take about half an hour to cook and should stand for another ten minutes. If you are using a thermometer, then the breasts should be around 63°C or so and the legs hotter. Like with a chicken, turning it over halfway through cooking is not a bad idea.
I haven't done bread sauce for years and I have to wonder why. I love it! Actually, made nice and chunky, it is good for breakfast. Make it the night before, bung it in the fridge then sorteé it up.
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 slice bacon
- 1 large slice of white bread
- 150 mil milk
- fresh herbs of your choice
Chop up the large shallot very finely and one clove of garlic. Cook them slowly in a small frying pan in butter for about five minutes till soft and just turning.
Add some finely chopped fresh thyme and rosemary - or whatever herbs you like - and a bay leaf.
Add some thinly chopped pancetta or streaky bacon and cook till the bacon is just browning.
Now add milk. Quantity will a bit depend how much bread you are intending to add, but somewhere between 150 and 200 mil. You can always add a little more.
Once the milk is near boiling, rip up the bread into tiny chunks and stir in, simmering slowly till the bread starts breaking down. Now, just go for the thickness you prefer. Some prefer it more sauce like with the bread almost vanishing, I prefer it much chunkier. I even put the crusts in, heathen that I am. Oh, don't forget to take the bay leaf out again.
Probably ought to have one, wouldn't you say?
In a mug, pour in a half cup of red wine, a quarter cup of Masala or even an Amontillado sherry, and a few cranberries. Oh, chuck a clove in there as well.
Remove the Pheasant from the oven, wrap up in foil and keep in a warm place while you finish off.
Drain off any excess oil from the pan (keeping the nice stuff) and put it on the heat. Pour in the wine and reduce by a half.
And that is it. I served mine with sorteéd potatoes and some chard and leeks which I softened and wilted in a little olive oil and flavoured with lots of black pepper and crunchy sea salt.
What a nice way to spend a Saturday, especially finishing the wine off .... not to mention the sherry.