Keeping it Simple by Derry ClarkeAutumn and winter bring many treats to the kitchen and, for many people, wild game is one of the most exciting. What fun it used to be walking down past Sawyers in Chatham Street, when all the feathered and furred game was hung up on display, the beautiful pheasants with their tail feathers on and a kaleidoscope of colours gleaming in the winter sun – as good a reason for going in Dublin as there could be, yet all that is banned now.

But that hasn’t quite spelt the end of wild game, which is supplied oven-ready in season to good specialist shops and supermarkets by, for example, the Wicklow company, Wild Irish Game.

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

Red 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.

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