The Roast Pheasant was obviously the star of the meal – not just because it is a meat we don’t eat enough of, but also from my point of view because to tick it off I had to do lots of accompanying dishes, so some organisation was required. If you want to have a go, you can have as many of the elements as you wish, though try to do as many as possible as they do go so very well together as a dish. The trickiest part was getting hold of pheasant giblets – however, the nice game butcher at the Farmers’ Market got me them when I asked. Make a point of ordering them as they are routinely thrown away. So, the roast pheasant is made up of five individual parts:
2. The game chips
3. The giblet gravy
4. The browned crumbs
5. The bread sauce (dealt with separately as #123).
Most of this can be made in advance and reheated, that which is not, is easy and quick to prepare and will not keep you from your guests for very long.
To prepare the brace of pheasants, begin by removing the giblets and setting them aside for later on. Stuff each bird with 2 ounces of butter, plus the liver (make sure you remove the green bitter gall bladder) and a good seasoning with salt and pepper, then lay a thin sheet of back pork fat over them that is large enough to cover the beasts and legs. Secure the back fat by tying string around the pheasants. Place them in a roasting tin and set aside for when you want to roast them – they should be roasted at 190°C for 20 minutes per pound plus an extra 10 minutes. You calculate this for the heaviest bird; in my case 2 pounds, so 50 minutes in all. For the final 10 minutes of cooking, remove the back fat and dust the breasts lightly with seasoned flour. Remove from the oven and allow to rest. I did this just before the guests arrived so that the birds could rest as the leek tarts were cooking. To serve it, I removed the legs, then sliced the breast meat and placed on a bed of watercress.
So that there was a bit of green, also served some peas and green peas, but also Bread Sauce (as instructed) and (#124) Creamed Celery – Grigson says that either celery or mushrooms should be eaten with roast pheasant.
#122 Roast Pheasant – 9.5/10. What a brilliant meal! It was well worth the effort, I cannot fault it in any way really, and will definitely make it again, though maybe not with all the required elements. The pheasant was juicy and just-cooked, the gravy was beautifully rich and luscious, the breadcrumbs provided a nice crunchy texture and the game chips were tasty, some crunchy and some soggy in the gravy and bread sauce. For me, pheasant is the king of the game birds, and after this, it is going to be very difficult to knock it off the top spot.
FYI: to be a bit thrifty, I made soup from the carcasses and left over veg and trimmed celery etc and it was lovely – I’ll put a recipe up for it. I am never chucking out a carcass again!