Spicy pheasant

Little warning to start - underneath this blog post there is a pretty detailed and graphic description of how these birds were prepped, so if you don't like that kind of thing, don't scroll further than the end of this post.

Andy returned from work with these, courtesy of a friendly beater. Unfortunately, not everyone who takes part in organized shoots wants to take their kill home, even though it costs them for each one shot. So these didn't entirely die in vain, and we can't afford to turn down free food. Besides which, I think I can modestly say I have invented the pheasant casserole to end all pheasant casseroles. It really needs starting the night before eating.
Our birds hung in the cold, stone outhouse for about ten days, and were still in excellent condition, if a little gamey. When Andy had done the business of chopping the birds up, I was left with the business parts...

Once they were trimmed, washed and checked for stray pellets, I popped them in a Tupperware box and added - a generous slug of
Worcestershire Sauce, about a tablespoon of dried herbs, two crushed cloves of garlic, a big squish of tomato puree and another good slug of soy sauce. Then I put the lid on tightly, and gave it a vigorous shaking until the parts were all covered. It was left to marinade for at least three hours.

Then they went into the crock of my faithful slow cooker, along with a tin of chopped plum tomatoes and a tin of haricot beans + the liquor (I would have preferred borlottie or chick peas, but we had run out. You need a good, meaty bean). I also added a tablespoon of brown sugar (molasses would be even better, but I only had soft Demerara) and a bay leaf. The cooker was turned on at LOW at 11pm when we went to bed, and left overnight, until 9, when I went for my walk. It was turned on again at about 12 noon - and at five it was nice and tender (pheasant can be a tough old bird, which is why I leave it in for so long). I chopped the breasts and stripped the legs, trying to remove as many bones as possible. You could also just leave the parts whole as they are, and serve them like that. I left it all for a further hour, before we ate. It was, if I might say so, pretty darned good. What you are left with is a rich, sticky casserole, with deep, sweet flavours - just the thing for a cold winter's day. Soy sauce makes an excellent condiment with this, and a whole grain bread would be the perfect companion. If your birds were shot, do look out for undetected pellets.

And there was enough left over for leftover lunch today.

Recipe for Spicy Pheasant
(adaptable) halve amounts if only one bird
A brace of pheasant, using the legs and breasts

One tin of chopped tomatoes
One tin of hearty beans/pulses - borlotti, chickpeas, haricot

About 3-4 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 big tablespoons of mature chutney (I used my own two year old plum)
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
About 3-4 tablespoons Tomato Puree
About 3-4 tablespoons Soy Sauce

Later additions
One large bay leaf
Tablespoon soft brown sugar or molasses sugar

Shake bird parts in the marinade, in a tightly lidded box or sealed bag. Leave to souse for at least 3 hours. Put into slow cooker with your choice of beans, the tomatoes, bay leaf and sugar. Cook on lowest setting for at least ten hours, depending on your cooker. You want the meat falling off the bone. I did mine for fifteen (ish) hours.

See also -
Basic pheasant stew
Sticky pheasant

Underneath this nice recipe is a step by step guide to prepping birds quickly, it contains graphic pictures of the bird being cut up, so you have been warned.


tut-tut said...

This is slightly exotic to me; pheasant is a very uncommon dish here. You are giving River Cottage a run for the money with your previous post, showing exactly how to do it!

ellen said...

Looks and sounds delish! Do you ever save any of those beautiful feathers?

Gretel said...

Oh, we could never compete with the lovely Hugh FW - I draw the line at squirrels! (*for the moment...*)

Hi Ellen! No, I used to...but they are so commonplace that one gets used to them - I need fresh eyes!

Anonymous said...

Blimey is that a pellet? It's tiny!You could easily have missed it!x

Bee said...

Fascinating, this!

I realize that you got your bird from a legit source, but I just read this morning that poaching is on the rise again in this shaky economy. Do you suppose that poachers are trawling the Internet looking for tasty recipes for their ill-gotten gains?

Gretel said...

No, I don't think so - my first pheasant post goes way back two years, and since then I've had regular traffic from people Googling (mainly) how to prep pheasant and sometimes looking for recipes - your average poacher can clean a bird in a few minutes and certainly won't need my amateur advice - and probably not my recipes either! Anyway, I reckon the estates can spare them - they breed enough of the poor things.
I just find it amusing that for 3 autumns running, regular as clockwork, the web search hits come in as people (one way or another) find themselves with birds and no idea what to do with them.

Flora said...

OH wow!!! I'm salivating!!!

Gordon Fraser said...


(me and Fhi are officially in a huffty for 3 hours!!!)


Bee said...

I was just teasing about the poachers, but I do like the idea of one of them perusing food blogs for good recipes! How fun to pull in people this way. I really enjoy when people find me by Internet searches. I guess that I never tire of, or cease to be amazed by, the whole notion of inconnectivity.

And about those pheasants: Yes, we have loads of them around here, too. (We live near a big shoot.) They waddle onto the road sometimes.

tim relf said...

Now you've made me hungry. I always think a little bit of lead adds to the flavour!

Alison said...

We had goose and duck that my father shot and I thought if you swallowed a piece of shot you would die so I regularly got into trouble at the table for mashing my meat to a paste befre eating it. My childhood take on pheasants/peasants is pictured as a memory painting on the current page of my blog.

Libby Buttons said...

I love this post and the photos of the pheasants. Are they wild pheasant's ?