BRAISED PHEASANTS IN MADEIRA

We have a freezer in one of our outbuildings and I thought I should check what was in there as I hardly ever look. It was stuffed with all the blackberries, plums and apples I’ve picked last year and there was some game, mostly pheasant breasts. I wasn’t sure they would be very good roasted, so I decided on slow cooking instead. Which is how I came to make Braised Pheasants in Madeira at the weekend. This tastes even better if you make it one day and reheat it the next. We ate ours with steamed green beans and (very) buttery mash and even though I say it myself, it was bl**dy delicious. This recipe is suitable for freezing.

BRAISED PHEASANTS IN MADEIRA

Ingredients serves 4
4 – 6 pheasant breasts
Chicken stock cube
2 bay leaves
Sprig fresh thyme
10 fl oz (275 ml) Dry Madeira or sherry
8 oz (225 g) button mushrooms
Cornflour
Tbspn olive oil
Tbspn butter
16 shallots, peeled
Pack lardons
Clove garlic, finely chopped
10 fl oz (275 ml) dry white wine

How to prepare
Season the pheasant with salt and pepper and fry them in the oil and butter on a high heat until they are golden brown. Using a slotted spoon transfer them to a flameproof casserole dish. In the remaining fat in the pan, fry the shallots and lardons until they too are golden brown. Remove them and keep to one side.

Now add the thyme, stock cube, bay leaves and chopped garlic to the pheasant and pour over the wine and Madeira. Heat until simmering, then put on a tight fitting lid and cook gently on a low heat for 45 minutes so that the contents just gently bubble.

After that add the mushrooms, lardons and shallots and gently push down into the liquid. Then put the lid back on, bring back to a gentle simmer and cook at 160 degrees for a further 45 minutes or until the pheasant is tender.

With a slotted spoon, remove the pheasant and vegetables and put into a shallow ovenproof serving dish. Mix up a little cornflour with water and add to the liquid in the casserole dish. Stir until thickened then pour the sauce over the pheasant, bacon and vegetables. Serve with buttery mash and steamed green vegetables.