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Pheasant roasted with Smoked Bacon and Sage, with Red Cabbage Salad

Keeping it Simple by Derry ClarkeWhile it may not be too hard for the home cook to get hold of a few pheasants for a dinner party (or, if you’re lucky, get a friend or relative who shoots to leave in the occasional brace), it may not be so easy for restaurants, where regular supplies are essential.

In his new book, ‘Keeping It Simple’ Derry Clarke of l'Ecrivain Restaurant laments that “It’s becoming harder and harder to source wild pheasant, which is very reasonably priced when in season (October to January). While farmed pheasant is readily available, it is not as flavoursome as the wild bird.”

But, whether you use farmed or wild birds, the interesting ingredients and gentle cooking should ensure that this recipe from Keeping It Simple will be moist and have plenty of flavour; ideal for a dinner party, it might make also an interesting alternative for Christmas if numbers are too small for turkey (and will certainly be a lot easier to serve).

A decent pheasant is like a small chicken and should serve two comfortably.

Pheasant roasted with  Smoked Bacon and Sage, with Red Cabbage Salad by Derry Clarke - Keeping it SImpleRed cabbage is great with game. In this dish, the red cabbage is used in a salad for a lighter meal, but you could also serve it with slowly braised red cabbage.

4 oven-ready pheasants
250g smoked dry-cured bacon (cut into large dice)
1 onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (sliced)
150ml red wine
100ml stock (chicken) – stock made with a cube is fine
1 bunch sage (chopped)
2 bay leaves

For the red cabbage salad

11⁄4 head red cabbage (finely shredded)
1 green apple (cored and finely sliced)
2 tablespoons raisins or sultanas
100ml balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped chives

To cook the pheasant

1. Brown and seal the pheasants in a hot oiled pan.
2. Season and place in an ovenproof dish.
3. Put the bacon, onion and garlic in the pan and sauté for 2–4 minutes.
4. Add to the pheasants in the ovenproof dish.
5. Pour the wine and stock into the pan and add the sage and bay leaves.
6. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add to the pheasant.
7. Cover the dish and bake in the oven at 170°C for 1 hour.
8. Remove the pheasants and strain the liquid into a saucepan.
9. Boil the liquid until it has reduced by half.

To make the red cabbage salad

1. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

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