Pot-roasted pheasant

I can’t pretend that this is a quick dish, but speed shouldn’t be the only thing of importance in cooking. There are also such things as flavour, texture and pleasure. This dish has all of those things.

Pheasant is in season  right now so it shouldn’t be difficult to find birds for sale. It is a game bird but it isn’t as gamey-tasting these days as it used to be, unless you specifically ask for a bird that has been hung for a longer period. You cook pheasant pretty much as you would guinea fowl.

Personally, I find roasting pheasant to be a bit problematic, because it is easy to dry the bird out, so I prefer pot-roasting with some liquid to keep it tender and moist.

For this dish you will need;

1 oven-ready pheasant
1 large chopped shallot
1 chopped stick of celery
1 chopped carrot
a bay leaf
a sprig of thyme
about 200 ml dry white wine
some dried ceps (and morels if you can find them), soaked and drained, liquid reserved
chicken stock
fresh mushrooms, if you can get some wild varieties all the better
a neutral-flavoured oil
salt and pepper


First seal the seasoned pheasant in a frying pan in butter with some oil added. Put the bird in a deep oven dish or casserole with a lid,

Fry the shallot, carrot and celery in the frying pan until soft and then deglaze the pan with the wine, add the stock, mushroom soaking liquid and herbs and simmer until the vegetables are mushy. Strain off the liquid and throw the vegetable debris away.

Pour the stock over the pheasant and roast it covered for about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the bird to rest.

Fry the chopped soaked mushrooms and quartered fresh mushrooms in butter and sprinkle some flour over them. Pour over the pheasant cooking stock and stir until this all forms a nice thickened sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Cut off the breasts and legs of the pheasant. These are the best bits. The bones can be used for stock, if you like.

Plate up with a leg and breast each. Dress with the mushroom sauce.

I served some steamed hispi cabbage with this, and some boiled Jerusalem artichokes which I’d left to keep warm in the oven in some butter.

You want a decent wine with this. Personally, I like red Burgundy with game birds and with wild mushrooms, so we had a 2009 Savigny-lès-Beaune, which was lovely.


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