Braised pheasant with cabbage and Montbeliard sausage
December 10, 2018
It might be easily affordable but pheasant is one of the hardest meats to cook. Even plump, young birds will have put in a lot of leg work and, unlike chickens and turkeys, they do actually fly so even the breast can be dry when roasted. Generally, it's either very slow or fast (breasts only) but get it right and roast pheasant can be pretty good. As usual, hens make better eating than cocks and the best birds to pick have a good covering of yellow fat. With legs taking longer to cook than breast, they either need to be cooked separately, or, somehow, subjected to different methods. Poaching the legs in liquid whilst the breast gently steams is the way to go but first you need to prep the bird. Drumsticks are always going to be so stringy with tendons that it's best to cut them off, with the hocks, before you start. Then you can cut down the between the breast and thigh, pushing the thigh down so it's horizontal and easily covered with liquid, as in the recipe below.
1Preheat the oven to 125°C/ gas mark 1/2. Heat the butter in a large pan and add the bacon. Fry over a low/medium heat until the bacon has given off a fair bit of fat. Transfer to a medium lidded casserole or Le Creuset pan.
2Season the pheasant with salt and pepper and brown all over in the pan. Transfer to the casserole.
3Quickly brown the Montbeliard sausages and transfer to the casserole.
4Now tip in the garlic cloves and shallots and stir until they begin to colour. Transfer to the casserole.
5Deglaze the pan, add the wine and stock and bring to a simmer. Quickly soften the cabbage in the wine and stock and transfer to the casserole. Tip in the liquids and add the thyme. The liquid should just cover the pheasant thighs.
6Bring to a simmer, cover with a cartouche of baking parchment (it's definitely worth it), lid and cook in the oven for 2-2.5 hours. Remove the bird with tongs or fork and cut down on either side of the breast bone to separate the breast and thigh from the carcass. Serve with plain boiled potatoes.