As the winter draws in, add this warming meal to your recipe list. Perfect to soothe your soul through the chilly nights
Pheasant can dry out quickly when roasted, but braise it in liquid and you’ll reap the rewards of a beautifully-cooked bird and delicious liquid to serve it in. They have a tightly-regulated season from October to February and although not a supermarket staple, if you see a “brace” (pair) in your butchers, give them a go and shake up your standard Sunday roast.
Ingredients (serves 4)
3tbsp olive oil
250g mushrooms, sliced
6 rashers of streaky bacon, roughly sliced
2 onions, finely diced
2-3tbsp plain flour
250ml white wine (enhanced with a dash of sherry or vermouth, if you have any to hand)
500ml chicken stock
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1tbsp English mustard
2tbsp crème fraiche
½ lemon, squeezed
Serve with creamy mashed potato and a bowl of seasonal greens, like chard, kale or savoy cabbage.
1. In the biggest pan or stock pot you have, heat the olive oil and then colour the pheasants—rotating them so that the breast and then the undercarriage is pressed against the hot base of the pan. Set aside the birds to rest.
2. Add the butter to the pan and when it foams add the mushrooms. After five minutes add the bacon and onions and cook until the bacon fat renders down and the onions start to turn soft and translucent.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the plain flour so that it soaks-up the buttery liquid and coats the mushrooms, bacon and onions. Let this cook for 2 minutes (to prevent the flour from tasting raw), and then add the white wine (plus a dash of sherry or vermouth if you have any to hand), chicken stock and sprigs of thyme.
4. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, return the birds to the pot and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes (until the leg meat easily comes away from the bone). Stir in the mustard, crème fraiche and lemon. Taste, and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
TIP: unless mushrooms are really dirty, it’s best to brush them clean rather than wash them in water. They’re a bit like sponges in that they soak-up liquid, which they then give off when cooking, so they poach rather than getting a lovely, golden colour from dry-frying in butter.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter