It’s a glorious time of year for seasonal game and this recipe is a fantastic introduction to cooking with pheasant, and a real winter warmer. Bung everything into a pot, apply heat and have a glass of cider whilst you wait – what could be more simple?
All the juices from the pheasant and bacon are mopped up by the bread to make the most wonderful sauce, which is scented with the lemon and thyme. Best served with either a light watercress salad or, amp up the hearty-ness with some roasted roots and steamed greens.
2 hen pheasants (if you can only find cock pheasants, it’s worth marinating the birds in rapeseed oil, garlic, lemon juice and white wine overnight)
2 slices of white bread
1 bramley cooking apple
Juice of half lemon
6 slices of streaky bacon
3-4 of sprigs of thyme
1 slosh of brandy
Parsley to garnish
Preparing the Pheasant
Prepare your fire for direct heat or, pre-heat your oven to 160*c (140*c fan).
Layer the base of a Dutch oven with the slices of bread.
Quarter the apple, remove the core and roughly chop. Put half the apple into the cavity of the pheasants and scatter the remaining half and over the bread.
Chop three of the streaky bacon slices and scatter over the bread. Followed by the lemon juice, cider and thyme.
Cut the remaining slices of bacon in half and place three pieces on top of the breasts of each pheasant. Nestle the pheasants into the Dutch Oven and place the lid on top.
If Cooking Over Fire
Hang the Dutch Oven over the fire, placing a few hot embers on top of the lid. You want the Dutch Oven to be about 6 inches above a bed of hot coals, try to avoid hanging it directly over flames as this will boil the pot dry and burn your bread.
Cook for an hour making sure to rake more coals under the pot so it holds a steady temperature.
If Cooking in an Oven
Place in the centre of the preheated oven for 1 hour. Following the same checks as above.
When the pheasants are cooked add a slosh of brandy and replace the lid. Allow to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes
Check to see if your pheasants are cooked by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh to make sure the juices are running clear. Cook for another 10-15 minutes if needed.
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