This is a pretty easy recipe and a good way to try pheasant, I know everyone thinks pheasant is just a posh chicken for people who have footmen and ladies in waiting but it’s surprisingly affordable and damn tasty

For the casserole you will need

2 pheasants
4-6 Slices of pancetta or streaky bacon
50g butter
1 fennel bulb, cut lengthways into 8 wedges
1 leek, cleaned, halved and chopped into roughly 2in pieces

2 carrots, peeled, cut them in half lengthways and then thinly slice them on the diagonal
2 celery stalks (peeled), thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves (4 if dried)
1 sprig thyme
6 juniper berries (if you can’t get these put a measure of gin in)
150ml Chicken Stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160°C

Cover each of the pheasants with the pancetta, its best to tie these in place with some string.

Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole dish, add the prepared vegetables, herbs, juniper berries (gin), a good pinch of salt and plenty of grinds of a pepper mill.

Turn them over a few times, cover and sweat gently over a low heat for 20 minutes until tender.

Place the pheasants on top of the vegetables, recover and transfer the casserole to the oven for 45 minutes.

Then uncover the casserole, increase the oven temperature to 200°C and continue to cook the pheasants for 15 – 20 minutes until the bacon is crisp and golden and the pheasants are cooked through.

Lift the birds onto a plate, cover and keep warm.

Add the stock to the vegetables and simmer until reduced to good sauce consistency.

You can opt to add wine for a richer sauce just reduce the amount of stock you use by the same amount of wine you add.

Remove the bay leaves and thyme and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Lift the pheasants on to a board, cut off string and then lift off the bacon.

Cut off the legs and cut each one in two at the joint.

Then cut the breast meat away from the carcass in two whole pieces and cut the meat diagonally into slices.

To serve, spoon some of the vegetables and sauce into each warmed plates and place a piece of thigh meat on top.

Put the sliced breast meat on top of that and rest a drumstick alongside.

To serve with it you could make a wholegrain mustard mash, this is a good way to make the dish stretch further,

For 4- 6 people you need about 1kg of potatoes

Peel, cut in two, put in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt.

Cover bring to the boil, then simmer until you can push a knife into them without any resistance

Strain, add 50mls of hot milk and 225g of softened butter.

Now add 3 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard and mix well

Adjust seasoning to taste

Serve “family style” in a large bowl and let people help themselves

Enjoy

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