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Secret slow baked pheasant recipe for lazy chefs

Photo: Secret pheasant recipe

Photo: Secret pheasant recipe

We’ve had a pretty good season game wise. I have quite a few clients who shoot and are generous with their bounty. I also offer a plucking and dressing service. The fee is a bird for each bird plucked. This guarantees a steady supply of game when I’m not working on a bountiful estate. The Min Pins always goggle when I step into the kitchen with a brace of pheasant slung over my shoulder. I can almost heard them thinking
“Finally, she has done a proper day’s work.”

In a mild winter I’ll hang the bird for three days in our cold larder to let the gamey flavours develop a bit. If it’s very frosty weather, they may need to hang for an extra day or two. Our larder is an old fashioned one, built with a cold chamber under the floor.

Generally I skin the birds for home consumption. This means I can prepare and dress a bird in ten minutes but the flip side is that the pheasant has to be pot roasted in a covered casserole. We have developed several pheasant recipes that work equally well with skinned and unskinned birds. The secret, as with any pot roast, is to provide a really moist environment within the casserole dish so the pheasant is slow cooked and semi steamed in an atmosphere imbibed with flavours.

Having laid out quite a bit of cash for 6 kilos of free range pork to develop our sausage recipe before Christmas, January is paying for this investment. We are not buying a Sunday joint but trawling through our freezers instead. We haven’t suffered in the least but I know that D is itching to get his hands on a decent joint in February. On Saturday I found a young hen pheasant in the freezer.
“We have this pheasant. Let’s pot roast it on Sunday.”
Danny’s face flickered briefly. I ignored the disappointment and covered up by saying that I didn’t fancy it either.

He planned to cook our gipsy style pot roast pheasant tonight. But we had run out of streaky bacon and the pheasant was a lean young hen pheasant with very little fat. I returned home as he was preparing the casserole.

“I think I’m going to add a tiny half star anise to the apple in the pheasant dish tonight.”
“Why don’t we add some honey too?”
Remembering the success of the sausages baked with onion and apple we finely chopped half an onion, scattered it onto the bread along with the thyme and apple and dripped on some honey. This just proves that two cooks working together can produce something far better than individual ‘inspiration’. My last new individual creation was removed by the dustbin men last Monday.

This dish smelt divine as it baked, filling the cottage with heady aromas. After the dustbin disaster I was on tenterhooks. But the first forkful tasted very good indeed. Better than our gypsy style recipe. We were stunned. Admittedly it was a very young hen pheasant but the dish was superb. The succulent carcass was picked quite clean. This would be a great, lazy dinner party dish. Just pop in the oven and prepare for rapturous applause. But do remember to ask for a hen pheasant at your butcher’s, if you are not given a hen pheasant or shoot one yourself. In fact you should ideally ask for a hen pheasant every time. Then you can almost guarantee a tender bird.

Secret slow baked pheasant recipe for lazy chefs

Ingredients:

  • 1 small hen pheasant
  • Half an onion (50g) chopped
  • 1 skinned and cored Bramley cooking apple. (A quarter reserved to put in the birds cavity) the rest chopped These are very tart so if you only have ordinary eating apples to hand, sprinkle a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice over your apples.
  • 3-4 slices of white bread (crusts removed) to snugly line the base of the casserole dish
  • Half a small star anise broken into 4 pieces and distributed across the base of the casserole
  • 1 tablespoon of honey dissolved in 3 tablespoons of boiling water
  • 10-12 sprigs of thyme (strip the leaves off the stalks) and scatter over the bread
  • 2 tablespoons of dry white wine
  • Lashings of ground black pepper, added to the sauce when liquidised.

Method:

  1. Line the base of the casserole dish with the white bread.
  2. Scatter over the thyme, chopped apple, chopped onion, crushed star anise. Pour the wine and dissolved honeyand water over the bread.
  3. Put the pheasant breast down on the bread and bake for 1.5 hours at 160c (140cfan). If you have a big, old bird you may need to cook it for a further half an hour or so.
  4. When the pheasant is tender set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. If you pheasant has skin you can remove the lid of the casserole , whap up the oven temperature to 200c (180c fan) and brown the skin for ten minutes.
  5. Liquidise the sauce with a stick blender. Add a decent lash of freshly ground black pepper to taste and pour over the pheasant to serve.

We ate this with small roast potatoes, Calvero Nero and sweet organic carrots. A delicious and surprising combination.


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19 Comments

  1. Can’t eat bread so I’m going to line the base with thinly sliced potatoes, parsnips and celery. It will form a soft mash. Obviously I don’t intend to miss out on the roast potatoes.

  2. I have a friend who beats and shoots and I sometimes go to shoots as Ben my lab picks up, so by the end of the season I have a freezer full of pheasant. I skin them as it is easier. I keep some whole, but more often than not, I cut the breasts into small pieces, vacuum pack them and use the meat as I would use chicken – works very well. I use the legs in casseroles and for soup. Carcasses are used for stock. I get lots of rabbits, hares and sometimes venison too. Venison liver every week. It is so tender and needs hardly any cooking.

  3. Just trying to find a good recipe for pheasant. Your site looks very interesting, and I think that I will add it to my favorites. We get a lot of deer here in the U.S.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Mary

      Thanks for dropping by.

      We eat a lot of game during the winter but very little venison.

  4. Thank you :)

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Jopan

    You need to defrost the pheasant before cooking. Our recipe was cooked in a conventional oven rather than a slow cooker. I reckon that it would work in the slow cooker ut I’d increase the cooking time by another hour to 2.5 hours. Check the bird after 1.5 hours to see how tender it is. You need a fork to slide easily into the flesh.

  6. Hello, i’ve been waiting for a slow cooker pheasent recipe from your site (you didn’t disappoint)as i’ve just bought the slow cooker and bought my very first pheasent a few weeks back. i shall be following your recipe to the letter, but i do have one question: do i have to defrost the bird before i put it in the slow cooker? You see how inexperienced i am in the art of cooking :)

  7. I’m pleased to hear your recipes are easy & designed to be ‘a bit more palatable for a non game lover’. Like Danny I’m not a great fan of game but I am a great fan of food for free and am quite happy with all the blood, guts & feathers so if I get any pheasants I’ll be glad to turn to your recipes. We do have a friend who goes shooting & has invited us to join him – the very least I should do is send hubby out!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Margaret C

    What a shame that you don’t have a lot of pheasant in France.

    You are spot on regarding slow cookers. We bought a slow cooker in January 2008. It has transformed our lives! It seems to intensify the flavours of almost anything from stock to Steak and Kidney.

    A stick blender is a great investment. You can blend in a saucepan in seconds. Much easier to wash up than a liquidiser.

    Thanks so much for your encouraging comments. Sometimes I find it difficult to post every day. Comments like yours make it all seem worthwhile.

    Hello S.O.L.

    I reckon that it would work with duck. Love to hear how it works out if you give it a go.

    Hi Jan

    I’m very envious. I wish the Min Pins could kill the pheasant that come into our garden. So far they have just killed a handful of pigeons. Pretty tasty in a game casserole though.

    Hello Casalba

    Yes it’s a good deal :) In the old days the butcher’s would do it for a very small fee but now it has become exorbitant so there’s a gap in the market crying out to be filled!

    Hi Amanda

    Our dogs are great hunters so I reckon that they imagine that I’m out hunting every day and clearly not a good hunter as I come back empty handed everyday except Saturday when I return with bags of food!

    Try your slow cooker out. We love ours and use it endlessly. The slow cooking enhances flavours and is very economical too. Boring but true.

    Hello Alottment Blogger

    I suppose as you live on the coast there are not many pheasant about. We are very lucky, the countryside around here is teaming with game.

    Hi Sylvie

    Danny is not wild about game so all our game recipes are designed to make it
    a) A bit more palatable for a non game lover
    b) Pad out the pheasant/partridge so that it will feed more than two people
    Hello Scott at Realepicurean

    I enjoy cooking but I also like simple, delicious recipes. Cooking can become a bully so easily!

    Hi Natasha

    Yes I agree. Good ole pheasant. It’s great to cook a bird that has lived wild. No antibiotics and hopefully not much stress.

    Hello Belinda

    Oh poor you. I know the feeling so well. I hate it if I cook a disaster but as we are developing new recipes all the time, it’s bound to happen every now and then.

    Like you, I hate throwing away food too. Quite often the dogs will eat it. Sometimes it’s not even fit for them.

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