I received two frozen pheasants for Christmas from a local farm, so I started reading recipe books to find out how best to cook them. A combination of my broad reading and this great local produce proved a tasty success on first attempt! The nuttiness of the celeriac pureé goes so well with the gamey meat.
Top tip: These birds can dry out quite quickly whilst cooking so to avoid this ensure a moist roasting environment, and a rasher of bacon across the breast helps seal some of the juices in.
Pheasant – 2
Bacon – 2 rashers
Bay Leaves – 2
Butter – 100g
Chestnut Mushrooms – 1 punnet
Thyme – 4 large sprigs
Garlic – 4 cloves
Chicken Stock – 200mls
White Wine – 200mls
Carrot – 1
Onion – 1/2
For the celeriac pureé
Celeriac – 1/2
Leek – 1
Garlic – 1 clove
Chicken Stock – 500mls
1. Wash the pheasants in cold water, ensuring to clean inside the cavity and remove any excess feathers and giblets. Place 25g of butter inside the cavity. Dress each pheasant with a rasher of bacon along the breast, and a bay leaf on top.
2. Roughly slice the onion, carrot and chestnut mushrooms. In a roasting tin, place the chestnut mushrooms on top of a bed of onion and carrot. Divide up 50g of butter over the mushrooms. Place the thyme sprigs on top. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add to the roasting tin with the stock and white wine. This will create the base for the pheasants to roast on, and provide a moist environment.
3. Place the pheasants on top of the bed of vegetables, and roast in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes, basting occasionally. Cooking time may differ depending on the size of the birds.
4. Meanwhile make the celeriac pureé. Peel and dice the celeriac, and drop into the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Slice the leek, and peel and crush the garlic. Add to the saucepan and simmer for another 10 minutes. When done, drain all but a little of the stock, and blend until smooth using a hand blender or food processor.
6. When the birds are done, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes, whilst making a sauce from the vegetables and stock, by blending them all together until smooth.