Mark Hix on the one thing you should never, ever do to a pheasant
Regular readers will have been following my series on zero-waste shooting, and over the last few weeks Ive really started to experiment with my feathery harvest.
There are too many boring pheasant recipes out there for my liking, worst of all the dreaded roast pheasant. My advice is do anything except roast it: they tend to get dry even in the most skilled of hands.
So heres my advice to liven up your old bird. The thighs are the best bit, with the drumsticks too fiddly thanks to needle-like tendons and only good for a soup. The carcass and breasts are great for making into escalopes and crumbing – with a fried egg on top – for a particularly good breakfast. Heres how to make it.
Crispy pheasant and pear salad recipe (serves 4)
- 6-8 pheasant thighs, boned and skinned
- 200g or so of goose or duck fat
- Salt and black pepper
- 10 juniper berries, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- Vegetable or corn oil for frying
- Doves farm gluten free self raising flour for coating, well seasoned
- 50-60g buttermilk or yoghurt
- 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and sliced
- A handful of small leaves like pennywort, land cress or rocket
For the dressing
- 8-10 fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1tbs good red wine vinegar
- 4 tbs extra virgin rapeseed oil
- Put the thighs in a pan with the goose fat, seasoning, juniper berries, garlic and bay leaf, bring to a simmer and gently cook on the stove or in a medium oven with a lid on at gas mark 4 for and hour or until tender. Leave to cool in the fat then remove, dry off any fat and cut the thighs into 3 or 4 pieces.
- To make the dressing : crush the blackberries with a fork and mix in the vinegar and oil and season to taste.
- Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180°C in a large thick bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer. Pass the pieces of pheasant through the seasoned flour, dusting off any excess then through the buttermilk and through the flour again. Deep fry in two or three batches, turning as they are cooking with a slotted spoon for 2-3 minutes until crisp then drain on some kitchen paper.
- To serve, arrange the pheasant, leaves and pears on serving plates and spoon the dressing over and around.