First imported to Western Europe by the Romans, pheasants became a high-status game bird in medieval France and England and an important part of high Norman cuisine. The elite among the first English settlers imported pheasants to the colonies at great expense, only to discover the game birds were short-lived in the New World. In the 19th century, the Chinese ring-necked pheasant was successfully introduced in Oregon and Washington, and today the birds can be found in 40 states. Roasting has long been a favorite way to prepare this game bird. A roast pheasant with rich red wine sauce is an impressive main dish, traditionally served at Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in the United States.
Recipe Servings: 4
- 2 oz canola oil, or other non-scented oil
- 1½ Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 pheasants, oven-ready, preferably hen pheasants
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3½ oz red wine
- 1¾ oz ruby port
- 2 crushed juniper berries
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Heat the canola oil and butter in an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat, until foaming.
- Place the pheasants in the pan and cook until golden-brown on the leg sides, 3–5 minutes. Then turn to brown the breast side for 2–3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper; then transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the birds halfway through. Cook until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 145°F for a cock pheasant, or 175–180°F for a hen.
- Remove from the oven and let rest, covered, in a warm location.
- Spoon out the fat from the pan, and then add the wine, port, juniper and thyme. Cook over high heat, until the volume is reduced by one third. Scrape the caramelized juices and strain into a serving jug.
- Heat the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the onion, bay leaf, thyme, crushed cloves, and salt and sauté for 2 minutes, or until soft.
- Add the bacon lardons and continue to cook for 1 minute. Stir in the milk. Bring to a simmer, and then stir in bread pieces until the sauce is smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Carve the pheasant.
- Serve over a mound of bread sauce with the jus poured over all.
For Roasted Pheasant:
For Pheasant Jus:
For Bread Sauce:
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