Adventures in Small Scale Farming in an English Cottage Garden with Seasonal Tips and Recipes
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
January Recipe Braised Pheasant in a Rich Red Wine Sauce
I'm lucky enough to have a regular supply of pheasants from Sid, and this is a lovely way of cooking them, at this time of year, when it's minus two outside, and something rich and warming is called for. It's so cold in the mornings at the moment, I have to break the ice on the waterers for the chickens and ducks and also for the horses in the adjacent field.
Game is seasonal, and early in the season, in Autumn, we have them plain roasted, but later on, ie round about now, they seem best done in a rich winey sauce, with the addition of a little fruitiness in the form of prunes. Don't be put off by the idea of prunes, by the way, they cook to a melting softness and add a real richness to the sauce. Tell people it's plums if it makes them feel better. Chestnuts are another seasonal option you might like to consider here as well.
This amount will serve four people, or, since it freezes excellently, two people twice. (It's always lovely to have a home cooked meal in the freezer that you can just bung in the oven when you come home tired and/or frozen)
1 large onion chopped
2 large carrots chopped
3 sticks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic
large glass red wine or stock
about 15 ready to eat stoned prunes
a handful of pre cooked chestnuts (optional)
a few sprigs of thyme
Brown the pheasants in olive oil in a frying pan for a few minutes until they have taken on some colour. Remove to a snugly fitting casserole.
Fry the chopped vegetables in some more olive oil, for a couple of minutes and tip into the casserole along with the prunes, thyme and chestnuts if using.
Add the red wine or stock to the frying pan and bring to the boil. Pour over the pheasants and vegetables. Season generously with black pepper and salt.
Cover and cook in a low oven until tender. If your pheasants are young and tender they will be done in an hour, but if they are older they will come to no harm if you leave them for two. Test for doneness by pulling the leg to see if it comes away reasonably easily. You don't want to cook it to rags, but you don't have to worry about dryness so much as you do when you're roasting them. Leave the lid off for the last half hour to allow browning.
Serve with mash and a green veg like kale or purple sprouting brocolli.