Pheasant Braised with Leeks, Cider & Apples

3 min read
Need an impressive Autumnal dish to impress? Try this pheasant with pickled apples, leeks and hazelnuts. Serve with celeriac colcannon.

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Cooking Time: 50 Minutes

Serves: 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large pheasants, jointed
  • 2 leeks, washed, trimmed, and sliced
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  • 2 Bramley apples, thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp brandy or calvados
  • 800ml dry cider
  • 300ml chicken or game stock
  • 70ml double cream
  • ½ tsp mace or ground nutmeg
  • 50g skinless roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

For the pickled apples

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 juniper berries, crushed
  • ½ Bramley apple, peeled, cubed


  1. For the pickled apples, put the salt, sugar, vinegar, and berries in a small pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the apple cubes, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, high-sided casserole and season the pheasant joints with salt. Brown them all over, rendering out some of the yellow fat into the pan. Remove to a plate and season with pepper. Add the leeks, bacon and thyme to the pan along with a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and fry until the leeks have softened – about 8 mins. Add the apple slices and cook until starting to colour on both sides.
  3. Spoon in the brandy and cook until evaporated, add the cider and simmer for a few more mins to cook off the alcohol. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and add the pheasant joints back to the pan, covering with a circle of baking parchment.
  4. After 15 mins, remove the breasts from the pan to a plate and return the circle of baking parchment to the pan. Cook gently for a further 20 mins, then remove all the pheasant pieces from the pan to a plate and turn the heat up to reduce the sauce. Boil hard for a few min until reduced, then stir in the cream and mace and turn off the heat. Return the pheasant pieces to the sauce - the residual heat will warm it perfectly.
  5. Divide the pheasant between plates and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with the pickled apples and hazelnuts. Serve with celeriac colcannon.

Credit: Rosie Birkitt