On a cold wintery night, our lovely neighbour, Gordie, knocked on our door and handed us a very handsome gift; a pheasant! This prompted me into a flurry of hospitality towards our kind neighbour, though he had eaten his dinner and would accept nothing more than and a cup of tea from us.
Pheasant a La Casa Maria Jose Ponte
Recipe for two people
1 Prepared Pheasant
4 Large shallots peeled
1 Red pepper cored and cut into large pieces
1 Ripe largish tomato cut into quarters
1 large carrot quartered
1 Stick of celery quartered
2 Bay leaves
5 Juniper berry’s
A good pinch of Mace
A Large sprig of Thyme
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
A good glug of olive oil
A large glass of white wine
2 table spoons of Brandy ( optional )
2 Table spoons of bacon lardons
2 Table spoons of porcini dried mushrooms soaked in a small bowl of boiling water – just enough to cover them.
Take a large pan, or oven dish that can hold the bird comfortably, put in the oil and bacon and fry till the bacon becomes golden and crispy, releasing its gorgeous flavour, then remove the lardons with a slotted spoon, on to a dish and leave aside. Then brown the pheasant in the same pan with the juices from the bacon and the lovely olive oil. Once done, pour the warmed brandy over the pheasant and flambé! I then remove the bird and leave to one side.
Layer the vegetables on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle the lardons over them, drain the porcini mushrooms but reserve the liquor and sprinkle the mushrooms over the vegetables. Add the herbs and spices (I usually give the juniper berries a little crush, I believe they disperse their wonderful aroma into the dish better that way) into the pan, lay the bird on top and pour in both the glass of wine and the reserved mushroom liquor in to the pan.
I cook this with a lid, covering it for approximately one hour in an fan assisted oven preheated at 180C, removing the cover and basting my bird for the last 10 min. I add a tablespoon of my homemade redcurrant jelly to the juices at the end of cooking, seasoning to taste, after I have lifted the vegetables and pheasant on to a serving platter.
Serve with mashed potato’s and mashed celeriac, half and half mixed together, also kale and heart shaped croutons to give it the love it deserves. Beetroot, plain but with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground white pepper, button mushrooms, gently pan fried in a little butter and a drizzle of olive oil sprinkled with some fresh thyme leaves salt and pepper to taste.
Not forgetting the gorgeous gravy which can be made from the juices of the bird.
This is a quick recipe to make, unless unlike me you have to go out side to pluck your pheasant on a cold and snowy December day and with my log burner glowing welcoming warmth, and our cat Leo snoring in her cosy basket. The lazy pusscat won’t even lift a paw to help with a little proofreading for my recipe, let alone getting dinner ready…
Only the allure of a delicious feast could tempt me out to the shed. Brrrrrrrrrrr!!!!