Pheasant with Cider Gravy

This in no way could be called fast food as I started on this dish 5 days before I eventually eat it. The reason why, is that I wanted to make a pheasant stock made from the carcass. So I had to take the breast and legs off first using my “amazing” butchery skills. It’s not that hard really.

So as you see by the picture on the right, I ended up with two breasts and two legs and a carcass to make stock from. I did this by chopping the carcass up and boiling it with some veg like you would do with a chicken. This stock was to form the basis of my cider gravy.

Next I took the bones out of the legs leaving the thigh and drumstick as one piece. I put the two boned out legs together and placed them between two sheets of cling film and bashed them with a rolling pin. This was for two reasons. First was to tenderise the tough thigh and drumstick meat and the second was to create an even sheet of meat ideal for putting some stuffing on.

The stuffing for the legs was a handful of dried shitake mushrooms and an apple from my very own tree. I didn’t get many apples from my tree as this year was not good for apples. Also it’s a very young apple tree that I bought from Lidl only 2 years ago. It was a Granny Smith variety which I think was wrongly labelled as these apples are red. They are however delicious. I fried the rehydrated mushrooms and apples in a little butter for 5 minutes until the apples were softened and then spread the mixture on to the leg meat. I then rolled the legs in cling film to create a sausage shape and knotted the ends as I was going to “sous vide” it. That is a process of gently cooking them in water, not boiling water but a little under. There should be no bubbles rising but a gentle steam coming off the water. Ideally you should have a thermometer but where’s the fun in that.

Now the cider gravy was a long process too as I had no idea of how much the cider to stock ratio was, so this was done in bursts during the day. At first I reduced the stock down to make the amount of sauce I needed then I added glugs of cider reducing all the time till I thought the taste was right. In the end it took a whole pint of cider to get it to where I wanted. Don’t use strongbow or Diamond White as they are not appley enough. I used a Magners style cider.

I pan fried the breast for a few minutes on all sides and then put the pan in a hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes. Meanwhile I cooked the leg meat in the water for 20 minutes. After cooking them you must let them rest. Lots of juices came out of the leg meat so by leaving it to rest allowed the juices to stay in the meat a little more. Any juices left were added to the gravy.

I served the pheasant with some crispy sauteed potatoes and mange tout. I must say the gravy was awesome.

When I first had all the pheasant prepped it did look a little too much for me and Carol, but after cooking, the breast shrank a little and it turned out to be a satisfying meal. This was more than you’d get in a restaurant but that’s the idea isn’t it? Bloody good food that fills you up and not spending £20 each for the food and £20 on a bottle of wine that you can get for a fiver.

Don’t be afraid of pheasant, it’s not as strong as you may have been told, basically because the supermarkets would not be able to sell a bird that has been hanging for weeks developing flavour. I have tried a well hung pheasant in my butchering days and was not that impressed but it’s 25 years later now and may be an option as my taste buds have matured (been damaged?).

Carol has just walked in with a Guinea Fowl.
The brain cogs are in action

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