A great festive winter warmer using lovely seasonal local game
- 60 grams butter
- 2 oven ready pheasants
- 12 shallots, peeled
- 110 grams smoked bacon lardons
- 175 grams small chestnut mushrooms
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise
- grated nutmeg
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 300 ml mulled wine
- 100 ml port
- rind and juice of 1 orange
- 10 grams plain flour
- 150 grams blackberries
- Preheat the oven to 180C°
- Melt 25g of butter along with 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sized frying pan. Season the pheasants with salt and pepper, then when the butter begins to sizzle, add one of the pheasants to the casserole then brown it all over (this will take around 5 minutes). Transfer to a plate and repeat with the other pheasant.
- Add another 25g of butter and 1 tbsp olive oil to a clean casserole or sauté pan and, when it is hot, add the shallots and lardon sand toss them around until nicely browned. Add the mushrooms and fry until golden brown and then add the garlic.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Return the pheasants to the casserole, arranging them side by side, breast side up, and add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, nutmeg and sprigs of thyme. Season well with some salt and pepper.
- Pour in the mulled wine, port and orange rind and juice. Bring it all up to simmering point, then cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven to cook gently for 45-50 minutes.
- When the pheasants are cooked, remove them from the casserole, place them onto a carving board and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Mix the flour and remaining 10g of butter together to form a paste and then add this to the casserole in small pieces. Whisk the sauce back up to simmering point to thicken slightly. Add the blackberries and remove from the heat.
- Carve and serve half a pheasant per person, garnished with the lardons, shallots and mushrooms plus a generous amount of sauce.
Serve alongside some buttery mash and seasonal root vegetables.
Thanks to ‘Game to Eat’ for the recipe.