I like to keep my food in line with the seasons, as far as possible. Growing your own vegetables helps that, as the vegetables that are seasonally available tend to drive you to a particular type of protein choice. That’s my theory anyway. At this time of year, the vegetables that are around tend to be robust, growing semi-underground, and require a fair amount of cooking. There are some stronger salad leaves around too and, of course, herbs. Bearing that in mind I set off for the butcher to see what he might have in the way of autumnal protein to compliment the available vegetables and was delighted to find… game! Pheasants were ready and would go perfectly braised with my selection of roots and herbs as they would all require a few hours slow cooking.
I admit a few of the things in the picture were not grown in my garden… but I did say as far as possible… Here we go then with three good sized birds. Why three? Because they were 3 for £10.
I browned the outside of the birds in the casserole dish in a fair amount of fat, beef dripping in my case but I don’t think it matters. I added diced bacon and then I fried off the onions, mushrooms, peppers and chillies. Finally I added the root veg cubed and fried that off too making sure it didn’t stick.
I returned the birds to the casserole on to of the vegetables and added red wine and good strong homemade chicken stock (broth). All that was left to do was add a bouquet-garni of garden herbs put a lid on and cook on a medium heat for two and a half hours or so, checking periodically to make sure it didn’t dry out.
Being an almost wild animal pheasants can be tough, so need a long gentle cook with liquid, I think some liquid helps, and because there is not a huge amount of meat on a pheasant, I reckon on a bird per person. Maybe you could get away with a half a bird per person too but I like them too much to scrimp!
Finally don’t forget that you will have a lot of bones left over that will make a perfect gamey stock for your next autumn food adventure!
Happy seasonal eating. 🙂