Sunday 16 January 2011


The pheasant season will be over soon, shooting in Britain lasts from the first of October until the first of February. A brace traditionally consists of a hen and  cock. The hen is a dowdy bird compared to her male counterpart but she is more tender and has the better flavour. ( I shall avoid making any sexist remarks at this point!) 
We have been given the present of a handsome couple of cocks, they've been hung for a week to develop flavour, but the weather today is quite mild so they will need to be prepared for the pot.

Vegetarians, look away now!

Quite the quickest and most simple way of divesting the pheasant of it's feather coat is to skin it. After years spent tediously plucking, this is now my preferred option. I usually skin the whole bird and keep it in one piece, but I took a look at Molly Golver's blog where she has a video clip of the most bone idle method ever for accessing the meat; just unzip the coat from anus to neck, peel back the skin and bone out the breast meat. Then snap off the feet, pull out the legs, cut free at the hip joint, et voila! (Nothing, not a scrap for the poor dog in the video clip whose nose is visible just by the table.)

This is what I am left with, a couple of pieces of breast meat and a couple of legs from each bird.
No carcass for making stock, no bits for the dog, on the other hand, no guts and entrails, contents of crop, feathers, time spent. If I'm feeling lazy I shall do it this way again.

The dedication inside Mrs Beeton's book reads, 
'To the Cooks
from the Game Pie Eaters.'
Easter '91.
We gave it as a present to my parents and I don't know how much they used it, having already a number of favourite game recipes. When I collected the book after my mother's death it was bristling with clippings, invoices from the wild boar breeders, the venison suppliers and with their game dealer's contact number written clearly on the  inside page.

My father used to make a fine game pie. He worked in the kitchen rather like a surgeon performing an operation with his tools and ingredients all about him and his minions, wife, daughter, grandchildren, whoever was on hand, left with the menial task of clearing up. We didn't mind - the results were always worth it!

I have any number of cookery books. Some of them, like  'Mrs Beeton's Game Cookery', look wonderful and come highly recommended, but are hardly ever used, others don't look up to much but are constantly referred to. This  'Four Season's' book by Louise Walker is one of my favourites, it is both lovely looking and excellent to work from, containing tasty, foolproof recipes.

Here is her suggestion for roast pheasant.
Enjoy - but watch out for the shot!


  1. A little tip I picked up from the French, Cher - throw a couple of squares of good, very dark chocolate into the pot before cooking casseroles. It works for any game - especially rabbit.

  2. I think i will give the game pie a miss thanks!! Andy & Dogs are very keen though.

  3. Oh, my, Rosemary. I suddenly feel like tofu tonight.

  4. Tom, ah, yes, isn't dark chocolate a marvelous thing!
    Kim, I told you to avert your eyes!
    Steve, you wouldn't feel like tofu if you could smell the pheasant cooking.

  5. thats sounds amazing dark chocolate and pheasant...but someone else will have to cook it for me!