With winter just around the corner and the nights drawing in, thoughts come around to warming stews and hot pots.
A lot of people won’t normally consider game, but it’s low in fat, has nearly no cholesterol and is high in protein.
Game has been in season for a couple of weeks, it is in ready supply and can come already prepared, just like chicken, ready to roast, but is it good value? It can be, priced at about £6 a bird prepared or a couple of pounds unprepared (feathers and all).
But if you want to come and learn, Tresham College offers one evening courses on game, including how to choose and prepare a variety of dishes including feathered and furred game.
Pheasant is an easy cooking bird which holds its flavour well. This dish brings a little sweetness to the bird which can be quite strong flavoured, but because of this you don’t need so much and its worth a go, it really is good for you.
1 pheasant, about 500-600g (1 whole bird, prepared)
2 slices back bacon
50g smooth pate
100g mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, and currants)
1 glass red wine, about 125ml
1 chicken stock cube or half pint chicken stock
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
2 medium sized potatoes (Maris piper), peeled and 1 par boiled for 6 minutes
50ml rapeseed oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ red onion peeled and cut into 4
1 stick celery, cut into chunks
100g Savoy cabbage (shredded and cooked)
1. Mix dried fruit with half the red wine and cinnamon and cloves, leave to marinate for about an hour.
2. Remove string from bird and remove the wish bone, just like you would with a chicken (Tresham College site has a video on this) or get your butcher to do it for you.
3. Remove the breast from the pheasants and butterfly them (cut breast through the middle and open it up, do not cut all the way through - this is on the website as well). Keep legs for another recipe.
4. Lay the bacon on the pheasant, place half the pate on it, fold it over and the bacon over it and bring the pheasant breast together again so you have the pate inside the breast and leave aside.
5. Grate both potatoes together and season with a little sea salt and black pepper.
6. Mould potatoes into a couple of medallion shapes about the size of a Hob Nob biscuit, 2 per portion.
7. Heat a frying pan and when the pan is hot add a little rapeseed oil. Add breasts skin side up and sear them.
8. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 5 minutes.
9. Remove breasts to a plate and cover with another plate and keep warm.
10. Once pheasants are out, put pan back on the heat and add a little red wine and stir to remove sediment from the bottom of the pan, and strain into a measuring jug.
11. Heat another frying pan and pan fry the potato cakes, turning when brown, cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, place on a tray and place in the oven and turn oven down.
12. Remove carcass from oven, strain off the fat and add 1 cup of water and some sea salt and pepper, place onto the stove on a low heat stirring all the time. When all the sediment has come off the bottom, strain the liquid through a sieve and place back onto the boil and add the chicken stock. Reduce by half, add juice from measuring jug to this.
13. Add soaked fruits to sauce, boil for 2 minutes to remove alcohol, then simmer for a couple of minutes.
14. In pan that had pheasant breasts, wipe out with a little paper and put back on heat.
15. Add 25g butter and add cabbage, stir to heat through, season with salt and pepper.
16. Place plates in the oven to warm.
17. Place a ring on the side of the plates.
18. Add cabbage to rings then place potato cakes alongside the cabbage.
19. Take out breasts and place alongside potatoes.
20. Add remainder of butter to saucepan with sauce and whisk lightly to emulsify.
21. Spoon sauce over breast.
Recipe by John Fahy, lecturer and chef at Tresham College of Further and Higher Education’s Manor House Restaurant in Corby.