Pheasant Braised with Leeks, Cider & Apples
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 50 Minutes
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Divide the pheasant between plates and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with the pickled apples and hazelnuts. Serve with celeriac colcannon.
Credit: Rosie Birkitt