Pan seared, oven roasted pheasant

Pheasant is smaller than chicken, however not as small as some other game birds are, so one should be enough for two people. It’s pretty simple to cook, and a portion of half the bird (breast and leg) will be about 300 kcal, which is around the same as a large chicken breast. Noticeably gamey flavour, so a nice change to the usual chicken.

1 whole pheasant
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100ml red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
50ml port wine
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 juniper berries
sea salt
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 355°F. Heat the oil in a ovenproof frying pan, and place the bird in the pan on it’s side, to fry the leg for 5 minutes. Turn to the other side, and repeat.

2. Turn the bird so that the breast side is facing down, and fry for another 3 minutes. Season withcouple of piches of sea salt, and some black pepper. Place in the preheated oven, and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the bird so that ast side is now up, season again and roast for another 15 minutes.

3. Take the pan out of the oven, and lift the bird out of the pan, on double layer of foil. Wrap the bird with the foil. I also tend to put a layer of kitchen towel around it while it’s resting, so that it doesn’t get cold whilst making the sauce.

4. Remove the fat from the pan. Add both of the wines, thyme sprigs and crushed juniper berries. I normally use fresh thyme, but as we recently came back home from abroad, and are going on another holiday very soon, I hadn’t bothered with buying fresh herbs. Bring to boil, and simmer until it’s reduced by about a third. Scrape the pan, to get all the flavours from the bird into the sauce. Strain through a sieve.

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Pheasant tortellini with homemade spinach pasta

I love making my own pasta. The dough itself couldn’t be any simpler, as you only need flour and eggs for the basic one. You can make different variations by adding different ingredients like tomato puree, spinach or squid ink. I have finally managed to get my dough to the perfect consistency, and have also finally learned how to best make the filling for stuffed pasta. Ravioli is something my husband asks for more often than I make it. In the past, my ravioli didn’t seem to work out so well, however I have now managed to overcome this. Might even be I will have a happy husband eating ravioli more often from now on! On this post, for the first time, I’ve added small video clips about couple of stages of the pasta making. I’m very much at a practice stage with my tutorial videos, and hopefully with experience will get better.

Spinach pasta dough
250g 00 grade pasta flour
2 large eggs
125g fresh spinach, cooked and pureed

Pheasant stuffing
400g pheasant breast or leg meat
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
25g butter
150 ml dry white wine
150 ml double cream
salt and pepper

1. Chop the onions and garlic, and fry in butter until translucent. Add the pheasant meat and the white wine, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the pheasant is just cooked through. Set aside to cool.

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2. Once cooled, place the meat, onion and garlic into a food processer. If you have any liquid left in the pan, leave it there and use it as part of your sauce. Blitz the ingredients in the food processor, and add the cream, until the mixture is soft, mousse or paste -like texture.

3. Boil the spinach until soft. Drain / squeeze all water off, and puree.

4. Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand. Once the basic dough is ready mix the spinach puree in.

5. Cut the dough into four pieces. Repeat the next stages with all pieces. Flatten the piece with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the widest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. I would say from 7 down to 3 or 4 should be fine.

6. Cut your pasta. Brush half of the pasta round with egg, and add the filling. Fold the other half of the pasta over, and close with your fingers, pressing the pasta firmly together. Make sure you don’t leave air in.

7. Boil a large pan of water, with a generous amount of salt. Add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Pheasant breast and confit leg

I was practicing my butchery skills with this dish, as I bought the whole bird, but if you don’t want to get your hands messy you can buy these ready prepared. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when cooking wild game: it is very lean meat, so care should be taken not to overcook it, as it will get tough otherwise. Also, it’s good to remember that the meat might contain a pellet or two on occasion. I served my pheasant with puy lentils and quinoa, roasted parsnips and steamed tenderstem broccoli.

Confit leg
sea salt
ground black pepper
thyme leaves
2 dl vegetable oil
2 dl duck fat
2 garlic cloves

Breast
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
ground black pepper
thyme leaves

Sauce
2 shallots
1 thyme stalk
1 dl port wine
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 dl chicken stock
1 tbsp grainy mustard
salt
black pepper

1. Rub some sea salt, ground black pepper and thyme leaves on the legs. Cover with cling film, and rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

2. Wash the salt rub off the legs, and pat dry the them. Heat the oil – fat mixture to very low temperature,  including garlic cloves and thyme stalk. Place the legs in the oil, and cook on very low heat for 3 hours. Make sure you have enough oil/fat to cover the meat.

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3. Whilst the legs are cooking, marinate the breast, cover and place in the fridge for couple of hours.

4. Finely chop shallots, and fry in olive oil together with the thyme stalk until shallots are translucent. Add port, sherry vinegar and stock, and reduce by boiling uncovered until desired thickness. Add grainy mustard, check the taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

5. Pan fry the breasts for 1 minute, skin side down. Turn skin side up, and place in preheated oven 200°C / 390°F for 10 minutes.