Food and drink

Pheasant with caramelised apples

It’s farmers market day! Woo! We headed down to the monthly farmer’s market on the hunt for something tasty for tea. Despite getting sidetracked by a pork pie and some free sausage samples we eventually completed our mission and returned home with a pack of pheasant breasts and a few pigeon breasts (to be blogged another day).

After consulting a few books and the internet for ideas on what do with my game, I decided on pan fried pheasant with caramelised apples and a cream sauce. As my girlfriend is currently restricted to a low fat diet I’ll be replacing the cream with low fat creme fraiche and frying everything using a spray oil instead of proper oil and butter, but I’ll write up the recipe as I would do it under normal circumstances.

Having gone to the supermarket and picked up the rest of the ingredients for the dish I settled down to work. Opening the pack I realised that I should probably pay more attention when buying game. Instead of 2 pheasant breasts we had a whole jointed pheasant, legs and breasts. Hmm. On the plus side it just shows how good value game is, £3.45 for 2 breasts and 2 legs is fantastic. However it’s cocked up my plans. Do I press on with the pan fried idea or switch to a casserole? The sinewy legs on the bone probably won’t cope well with the frying pan.

In the end I decided to throw the legs in a roasting tin with some carrots and parsnips and hoped for the best. It worked ok but they did come out a little dry and the awkward, tough, tendons made them pretty annoying to eat. My advice, if you have a jointed pheasant stick it in a casserole dish with a lot of wine for an hour or two. Also, as much as I love roast carrots and roast parsnips, they were a bit unnecessary as the apples proved more than ample as an accompaniment. Having said that the parsnips were delicious and go really well with game.

The pheasant breast was brilliant. Very tasty and cooked quickly so it didn’t dry out too much, which was a worry as I couldn’t use most of the tricks other recipes suggested (adding bacon or butter) to keep it moist. As with most dishes like this it would be nothing without the sauce. It lifts and completes the dish after picking up all the flavour from the apples and the pheasant. Awesome.

Serves 2

2 pheasant breasts
2 apples (I used royal gala)
100ml chicken stock
Single or double cream (or low fat creme fraiche if you’re cutting out fat)
1 tsp icing sugar

Peel, core and quarter the apples.
Season the pheasant breasts, heat some oil in a large frying pan on a high heat and fry them for 4-5 mins each side until cooked. Set them aside somewhere warm to rest.
Add some more oil to the pan and some butter, when it’s foaming add in the apples and sprinkle over the icing sugar. Gently fry the apples until they’re golden brown and glazed. Try to resist the temptation to eat them already and set them aside with the pheasant to keep warm.
Turn the heat up again on the pan and de-glaze with the stock. Scrape and stir with a wooden spoon to get all the flavour from the pheasant and apples off the bottom.
Reduce by half and stir in some cream. A couple of tablespoons should be enough.
Add the pheasant and apples back to the pan along with any juices that they’re released while resting. Stir the sauce and make sure everything’s covered in it.
Heat the pheasant and apples through in the sauce for a minute then serve with creamy mash.

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