Pheasants are delicious - I apologise now to any vegetarians who read my blog, but a family friend goes out hunting for pheasants and in Winter, I skinned and gutted my first pheasants after he kindly donated a fresh kill to us. Sorry! *insert monkey with his hands over his eyes here* You have to understand that in Hampshire where I live, pheasants rule the land - in turn they’re an easy catch for hunters. I don’t condone hunting as a game, I think that’s useless and cruel - but I’ve actually grown to understand hunting for food. Which when you think about it, if we’re all obsessed with organic and free range - an animal doesn’t get happier or healthier than one who’s been roaming the fields and forests for its entire life.
I came across this recipe when looking for inspiration on what I can do to my little tasty friends - naturally, I had to make my own tweaks to the recipe because I just can’t follow the rule book. Combining all the delicious elements of Autumnal cooking - game, apples, cider, cream - this meal is both deliciously crisp and equally filling. You can also add some potatoes or mash as a side - or just serve the pheasants in the thick sauce and let your guests dig in! I love having family and friends over for a meal where everyone just gets stuck in! Pop everything on a massive platted and let everyone grab their favourite pieces.
Ingredients (serves 3-4 people):
- 50g butter (I love Cornish salted butter - mmmmmm)
- 2 medium pheasants, cleaned and gutted
- 100g chopped smoked bacon or lardons
- 1 red onion, cubed
- 1 celery stick, cubed
- 6 springs of sage, roughly chopped / torn
- 4 cooking apples, cored and cubed
- 1 bottle of dry still cider
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
- 100ml double cream
Star by heating the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. This will get the kitchen nice and toasty as well - don't forget to work in your chunky wooly socks for the extra 'hygge' factor! Melt your butter in a large dish on the hob - non stick and flame proof - you will only need one dish for this recipe.
Season pheasants with salt and pepper, and brown them on all sides in the dish the melted hot butter. They'll start looking a little golden on the edges - remove them from the dish and place to one side.
Throw in the bacon, celery, sage and onion into the dish - cook them for about 10 minutes: you want the bacon to be crips and the onion soft and golden.
Pop your pheasants back in the dish and throw in the apples - these will give a deliciously sweet kick to the dish. Pour in the cider and stock - bring the whole mix to a simmer
Pour over the cider and the chicken stock, bring to a simmer - then cover with a lid and pop the pheasants into the oven for 25 minutes. The birds need to be cooked through and golden - major YUMS.
Carefully remove pheasants from the dish and place somewhere warm - you'll be getting on to the sauce now! Place the dish on the hob and turn the heat up high so all the liquid bubbles and reduces. Once half of the liquid is gone, add the cabbage and cover the dish with a lid - let this cook for about 3 minutes. Pour in the cream, adjust seasoning to taste and give it 1 more minute of steamy love on the hob.
Enjoy and let me know what you think! What is your favourite game recipe? Tell me about it in the comments below!