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Roasted Pheasant with Bacon and Herbs

  • 1 whole North Yorkshire wild pheasant
  • 2-3 slices of bacon
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., thyme, rosemary, or sage)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: vegetables like carrots, onions, and celery for roasting alongside the pheasant

  1. Preheat Your Oven: Preheat your oven to 180°C or gas mark 4.
  2. Prepare the Pheasant:
    • Remove any giblets from the pheasant's cavity and pat it dry with paper towels.
    • Season the bird generously with salt and pepper, both inside and outside.
  3. Stuff the Bird:
    • If desired, stuff the cavity with fresh herbs (such as thyme or rosemary) and a slice or two of bacon. This adds flavour and helps keep the meat moist.
  4. Truss the Pheasant: Trussing helps the bird cook evenly. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together and secure the wings close to the body.
  5. Sear the Pheasant: In an ovenproof skillet or roasting pan, heat the butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pheasant and sear it on all sides until it's golden brown. This step locks in juices and adds flavour.
  6. Optional Vegetables: If you're roasting vegetables alongside the pheasant, arrange them around the bird in the pan. Carrots, onions, and celery are excellent choices.
  7. Roast in the Oven: Place the skillet or roasting pan in the preheated oven. Roast the pheasant for about 20-30 minutes per 450g (1 pound) of bird weight. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 75°C . This ensures the pheasant is cooked through but still moist.
  8. Baste and Rest: Periodically baste the pheasant with the pan juices to keep it moist. Once done, remove the pheasant from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a succulent result.
  9. Carve and Serve: Carve the pheasant into portions and serve with your choice of side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad.

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Pairing North Yorkshire-sourced wild pheasant with the right side dishes can enhance your dining experience and complement the rich, gamey flavours of the bird. Here are some excellent pairings to consider:

Roasted Root Vegetables: Roasted root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes are a natural choice. Their earthy sweetness complements the gamey taste of pheasant beautifully.

Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a classic side that provides a neutral base for the pheasant's flavors. You can elevate them with a touch of butter and fresh herbs.

Cranberry Sauce: The tartness of cranberry sauce can provide a delightful contrast to the rich pheasant meat. It's a classic pairing that many enjoy.

Green Vegetables: Steamed or sautéed green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, or green beans add a fresh and vibrant element to the plate.

Wild Mushroom Risotto: A creamy wild mushroom risotto complements the pheasant's earthy notes and adds a touch of luxury to the meal.

Red Currant Sauce: Similar to cranberry sauce, red currant sauce provides a sweet and tangy contrast to the pheasant's flavours.

Braised Red Cabbage: Braised red cabbage offers a sweet and slightly tangy side dish that pairs well with game meats like pheasant.

Gravy: A rich, gravy made from the pan drippings is a classic choice that brings out the best in roast pheasant.

Polenta: Creamy polenta is a comforting side that can soak up the delicious juices from the pheasant.

Pear or Apple Compote: A fruit compote made from pears or apples can add a touch of sweetness and freshness to the dish.

Fresh Salad: A simple salad with mixed greens, vinaigrette, and perhaps some nuts or cheese can provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the pheasant.

Yorkshire Puddings: Embrace a bit of local tradition with Yorkshire puddings. Their crispy texture and mild flavor complement the pheasant well.

Ingredients that pair well with pheasant

Fresh Herbs: Herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, and tarragon complement the gamey flavour of pheasant. Use them for seasoning, stuffing, or as a garnish.

Bacon or Pancetta: Wrapping pheasant with bacon or pancetta not only adds flavour but also helps keep the meat moist during cooking.

Wild Mushrooms: Earthy wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, morels, or porcini, pair beautifully with pheasant. You can use them in sauces, stuffings, or as a side dish.

Root Vegetables: Roasted or mashed root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes provide a hearty and sweet contrast to the pheasant's richness.

Citrus: Citrus zest or juice, such as orange or lemon, can add a bright and zesty note to pheasant dishes. It balances the gamey taste.

Fruit Compotes: Fruit compotes made from apples, pears, or cranberries can offer a sweet and tangy element that complements the meat.

Red Wine: A rich red wine reduction sauce can enhance the depth of flavour in pheasant dishes. Red wine's acidity pairs well with the meat.

Cream or Butter: Cream or butter-based sauces add a luxurious texture and flavour to pheasant preparations, making them more indulgent.

Nuts: Toasted nuts like almonds or walnuts can provide a pleasant crunch and a nutty undertone to your pheasant dishes.

Game Stock: If available, use game stock or broth to create a rich and flavoursome sauce for pheasant.

Alliums: Onions, shallots, and garlic are classic aromatic ingredients that can enhance the overall flavour of your pheasant dishes.

Truffle Oil: A drizzle of truffle oil can add an extravagant touch and a hint of earthy aroma to your pheasant creations.

Cognac or Brandy: A splash of cognac or brandy can be used for deglazing the pan and creating a rich sauce for pheasant.

Chestnuts: Roasted or pureed chestnuts can be a delightful addition to pheasant dishes, offering a sweet and nutty profile.

Green Vegetables: Steamed or sautéed green vegetables like asparagus, green beans, or broccoli provide a fresh and crisp contrast to the meat.

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Red Wine: A classic choice, a good quality red wine such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with pheasant. The wine's tannins and fruity notes complement the gamey flavours of the meat.

White Wine: A full-bodied white wine like Chardonnay or Viognier can work wonderfully, especially if the pheasant is prepared with a creamy sauce or a citrusy glaze.

Sparkling Wine: Sparkling wines, including Champagne or Prosecco, add a touch of celebration to your pheasant dinner. Their crispness and effervescence cut through the richness of the dish.

Cider: A dry cider, whether still or sparkling, is a refreshing choice that pairs well with the earthy and slightly sweet notes of pheasant.

Ale or Stout: If you prefer beer, consider a malty ale or a rich stout. These can complement the hearty and gamey flavours of pheasant, especially in casseroles or pies.

Whisky: A good Scotch whisky, particularly a smoky or peaty variety, can be a bold and warming choice that complements the robust flavours of roasted or grilled pheasant.

Brandy: A glass of brandy, particularly one with warm and fruity notes, can be a delightful digestif to enjoy after a pheasant meal.

Gin: If you're looking for a lighter option, a well-crafted gin and tonic with botanical notes can be a refreshing aperitif before your pheasant dinner.

Non-Alcoholic Options: If you prefer non-alcoholic options, consider sparkling water with a twist of lemon or a non-alcoholic sparkling cider to accompany your pheasant meal.