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The slow cooker chef: Recipe for lazy, tasty Pheasant and Venison casserole à la Beastley

pair of pheasantSometimes I have to accept a decorating job that I don’t want. I sense on the initial visit that I will not be happy there and make my excuses.

I can’t say, “I don’t like you and I don’t want to work for you.”
So I explain apologetically that I have a one year waiting list at the moment. Sometimes I treble my quote.

The ‘bad job’ radar blipped on my reccy visit to a couple that I will call The Beastleys. They were just a bit too charming and gushy. I trebled my hourly rate and placed them at the end of the mythical one year queue.
“That’s fine,” responded Mrs Beastley with a glint of teeth. “The time will fly by.”

And it did. One evening the telephone rang.
“Beastley here.” It was the husband. “We must be at the top of the queue by now!”

I had no idea that they bullied their staff until the housekeeper gave me some sound advice.
“She will get nasty. It’s got nothing to do with you. It’s just how she is. Remember to breathe deeply and swear silently and you will get through.”

Despite the warning, the bullying and shouting that started half way through the job came as a bit of a shock. I couldn’t afford to walk away empty handed. Which I suppose in retrospect, they wanted me to do. Sometimes, behind Mrs Beastley’s back, I’d see the kind face of the housekeeper silently mouthing,
“Breathe and swear.”

Finally the job was finished and I produced my invoice. Mrs Beastley waved me towards her husband’s study with a slim copy of “The rules of Bridge.” Mr Beastley sat me down in a chair with two inch legs and towered over me. He examined the invoice carefully.
“What do you expect me to do with this?”
After a bit of a tussle he signed my cheque.

What I hadn’t mentioned during my visit was that Mrs Beastley knows my mother or that I am friendly with several couples in their Bridge circle. As I also didn’t mention the horrors of the job to my friends, I was intrigued to see what would happen.

They must have played Bridge that evening as Mrs Beastley slunk up the drive the next morning with brace of pheasant and an apologetic card.

Clearing out the freezer in the barn, last week I unearthed the Beastley’s brace. These had been sitting there for two years as I couldn’t bring myself to use them. Now we had to chuck them or eat them. I bought some venison and planned a traditional slow cooked game casserole. When the shops were closed I discovered that we’d run out of mushroom ketchup and most of the ingredients that were needed.

Determined not to waste the hard won birds, I reached for a tin of tomatoes and decided to try and create a new pheasant recipe with beans and Mediterranean herbs. The beans added so much to the dish. It was soft, creamy and superb. So, in the end, The Beastleys did me a huge favour. Without their birds I wouldn’t have pulled out all stops to make an something extra with my bounty.

It seems only fitting to name the dish after them.

The slow cooker chef: Recipe for Lazy, tasty Pheasant and Venison casserole à la Beastley

Like most slow cooked casseroles, this dish is at its best eaten the day after it has been cooked.


  • 100g of flageolet beans (soaked overnight)
  • 100g of butter beans (soaked overnight)
  • 300g of onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 large cock pheasant (jointed including the carcass)
  • 270g of venison chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 60g of pancetta (I used some of our own homw ured streaky bacon, cubed)
  • 3 tblsp of seasoned plain flour
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre of good chicken stock (hot)
  • 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 0.5 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tblsp of dry white wine
  • 1 fat clove of garlic chopped fine
  • A decent lash of ground black pepper
  • salt to taste


  1. Roll the joints of pheasant and the chopped venison in the seasoned flour. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker (crock pot). Switch to auto and leave for six or seven hours or so. The casserole is cooked when the onions have sioftened completely.
  2. If you are eating the casserole the next day leave it to chill before removing the pheasant and shredding the meat from the bones, carefully check that there are no small bones left in the dish. If you want to eat the dish immediately, remove the pheasant joints using a slotted spoon. Shred the meat from the bones and chop into chunks. Return the meat to the casserole.
  3. Serve with broccoli, carrots and creamed potatoes. And a good red wine to toast The Beastleys.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Luckily baddies like The Beastleys are few and far between around here!

  2. Kate(uk)

    If it wasn’t that I know you live in Suffolk, I’d swear that was my mother’s neighbour you were working for….but, on second thoughts,local knowledge has it that she has never been known to apologise!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Michelle

    Thank you so much. Two great Mantras and you made me laugh!

    Hi Joanna

    To date I™ve come across very few baddies. Dreadful to work with but fun to write about!

    The beans worked really well, which was a surprise.

    Hi Lynn

    Yes, I was delighted to find the Hamburg parsley.

    The feathery tops of the bulb type of fennel tastes different from the wild fennel which is grown just for the feathery tops. I have heard that it grows wild in the US. It™s quite big, growing to height of at least four feet.

    In fact, you can buy American wild fennel seeds here

    Hi Louisa

    I really want to try the recipe with a pheasant that hasn™t languished in the freezer for years.

    Thanks for leaving a comment!

  4. Lovely story, I have a pheasant in the freezer too that’s been there a while, now i know what to do with it.

  5. Fiona I forgot that I wanted to ask you something….back at your pasta recipe which included ham and wild fennel, will Finochio (sp?)fennel which is grown for the bulb work also? It does have the feathery tops. There’s also a fennel grown just for the tops, but I don’t have that seed.

  6. Hi Fiona! So happy to hear you’ve located the parsley root. I will be curious to see if yours grow better than mine.

    This year I have a brand new bed to grow it in and have enriched to the brim with mushroom manure. Hopefully this will create some monster roots 😀

  7. Great story – you could have been writing about a couple of our neighbours, which gave it an extra something 😉

    Great casserole – love all those beans … I expect we’ve got some game lurking at the bottom of our freezer

    Thanks for sharing

  8. michelle sheets

    Hi Fiona,
    A friend of mine gave me a mantra to say in times of stress. Deep breath, and on the exhale you say “serenity now, serenity now, serenity now.”
    I however have a tendancy to say it “serenity NOW! serenity NOW! serenity NOW!”
    My other favorite, deep breath, and on the exhale say “I get paid by the hour, I get paid by the hour, I get paid by the hour”….If they don’t help, at least they make you laugh.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Hank

    When I defrosted the pheasant it was perfect. Had it been injected with formaldehyde? We are still walking and talking a week later.

  10. Great story! Two years in the deep freeze, eh? Wow. Little freezer burn, yes? I especially like the idea that Mrs. Beastley “apologized” with a brace of pheasants. Not wine. Not money. But pheasants…

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