Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s cider pheasant (thank you Moni for introducing me) began my looking forward to doing justice to those beautiful birds whose grace through our skies so swiftly comes to an end. I used Marsala here, but brandy is equally good, so do as you wish. A quick flambe of the pheasant adds some glamour to the event as those flames gradually subside and in the process richly flavour the meat.
2 tbsp oil (plain olive, sunflower, vegetable)
4 pheasants, prepared and jointed, or 8 pheasant breasts.
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
a few thyme sprigs
250mls marsala or brandy
Matches or a lighter!
150 mls pheasant or chicken stock
(save the bones and make some stock for next time – put them in the freezer if you are not going to get around to it yet)
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan.
2. Season the meat and add it to the pan, removing when lightly browned.
3. Add the onion and carrot to the same pan, cooking until the onion is translucent. Add the thyme, stirring . Leave it to infuse for a minute.
4. While you heat the marsala or brandy, add the meat back to the dish.
5. Pour in the alcohol and set fire to it as you do so. Let the flames die out, with a little encouragement using a wooden spoon. If you are not successful in the flambe, it doesn’t matter, it will still be delicious.
6. Add 150mls of stock and put the lid on the pan.
7. Put it in the oven at about 150 degrees C for 3-4 hours. (if you have an aga, the bottom oven of a 2-door, the top left of a 4-door).
8. Once the meat is tender, let it cool and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Not serving it straight away will do no harm, and probably just deepen the flavour further.
9. Serve with mash and veg.