A pheasant’s not just for Christmas…

December 8, 2009

One of my favourite food writers is Nigel Slater, because he uses simple, everyday ingredients and encourages you to experiment with recipes. I often take a recipe and adapt it, depending on what I have in my fridge and how much time I have to cook. Which is exactly what I did on Sunday.

When I saw these dinky little hen pheasants at Shellseekers in Borough Market for a bargainous £4, I knew one was destined for my pot. I didn’t really have a plan of what to do with it, so I started having a look though my cookery books. In an old copy of West Country Cooking by Theodora FitzGibbon (a fantastic British food writer, who is – in my opinion – criminally ignored these days), I found a recipe for roast pheasant with an apple and onion purée. Sounded simple enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an apple, or the sweet white wine it asked for. But I did have a pear and some tarragon vinegar. That’ll do, I thought. Then I decided that even this wasn’t simple enough. I couldn’t be bothered to faff about with oven trays etc, so thought I’d make it all into a pot roast instead.

So here’s what I did. I browned the pheasant in one of my trusty Le Creuset casseroles, removed it, then added a chopped onion, the pear (chopped), a rasher of bacon and a bay leaf. Once the onion was soft, I put the pheasant back in, poured in about 200ml of hot stock and added a good splash of tarragon vinegar. Then I just let it simmer very slowly for about 40 minutes. The pear melted down really nicely, and the sweetness just took the edge off the vinegar. Being a nice small bird, half of it made a perfect portion for me, alongside some crunchy blanched Brussels tops – the other half went in the freezer for a quick supper another time.

‘Scuse the general ‘brown-ness’ of the photo – I’m a much better cook than photographer, I promise!

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2 Responses to “A pheasant’s not just for Christmas…”

  1. Nick Says:

    Yeah yeah West Country Cookin’ etc.
    But I can heartily recommend Theodora FitzGibbon’s wartime memoir With Love. She was a big friend of Dylan Thomas and the ramshackle Fitzrovia crew and writes well of their boozy buggering about blitz behaviour. Better than Ooh-Arrr recipes, I’ll wager.

    Cheers,
    Nick

  2. jasnieres Says:

    Wonder if she met my father, who shared a flat with Dylan Thomas – for a very short while – before the war.
    I would love to have been called Theodora Fitzgibbon. It is my most favourite name.


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