Winter Pheasant Casserole

This is what January should be about. It’s cold outside and Christmas is over – you need something to cheer you up. Detox? I don’t think so.
Following on from my recent post on skinning pheasants, I took a brace out from the freezer and turned them into something really rather tasty.
A brace should feed 4 people quite easily – 1 breast and 1 leg per person is more than enough.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 2 Pheasants – 1 male, 1 female
  • 2 tablespoons of lardons
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 1 swede – chopped
  • 2 carrots – chopped
  • 1 parsnip – chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped
  • Rosemary & thyme
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • a glass of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon stoned prunes
  • 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat your oven to around 170c.
Portion your pheasants – I cut the legs and wings off and then portioned the breast leaving it on the bone – I would always recommend cooking game meat on the bone where possible – flavour and moistness will be greatly enhanced.
In a heavy, oven-proof pan brown off the pheasant pieces in batches in hot oil. Put the browned pieces to the side. Now brown the lardons – do give them a good cook so they start to crisp up. Remove the lardons and add the chopped vegetables. Gently cook the veg until they soften and begin to take on a bit of colour.
Add the wine and reduce a little, scraping any meat or veg that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return the lardons and the pheasant to the pan and cover with the hot stock.
Add the prunes, the redcurrant jelly and a pinch of the herbs. Bring to a light simmer and then move to the oven. Cook for around 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and season to taste. At this point I cut the breast meat from the bone.
To serve with this dish I was inspired by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s parsley & walnut pesto but I scaled it back a little – he makes a proper pesto with Parmesan but I don’t think cheese would be right with a dish like this so I just mixed garlic, parsley and walnuts together with a good tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning.
You could serve it with roast potatoes, mash or just some decent bread – mopping up that stock with a decent chunk of bread is where it’s at. I’d made some bread earlier on so I was happy to serve it with that.