Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
Pheasant is a hugely popular wild game bird and is perhaps most commonly cooked by roasting it in the oven. This recipe is very different as it sees the pheasant crown cooked very slowly with the addition of some lamb to add flavour and keep the meat moist during the lengthy cooking period.
As it is only the crown that is used in this recipe, the instructions begin with how to remove this portion from the whole bird, the remainder of which was frozen and reserved for alternative purposes. The vegetable accompaniments to the dish are infinitely variable depending upon personal taste and choice, but these oven-roasted potatoes and red cabbage with pear offerings (the recipes for which are included after the main recipe) worked very well and are heartily recommended.
This freshly shot pheasant was hung for three days before being skinned (as opposed to plucked) and gutted for cooking. It was then further prepared using a Chinese cleaver, but a sturdy chef's knife could be used instead, if you prefer.
How to Remove the Crown from a Pheasant
Begin by sitting the skinned whole pheasant, breasts side up, on a chopping board.
One at a time, pull each leg gently away from the main body of the bird with your weaker hand and cut through the flesh and cartilage all the way around the precise area where the leg joins the body. You should then be able to pop the legs free at the joints. Set them aside on a plate.
Sit the main body up on one end and hold it steady with your weaker hand, carefully keeping your fingers well clear of the path the blade will travel. Cut down through the centre in the precise place that leaves the breasts on one side of your cleaver/knife and the undercarriage on the other. The bones you are cutting through here are fairly thin and delicate so you shouldn't be required to use any significant level of force.
You are now left with the crown, the two legs and the bones of the underside of the carcass. In this instance, the bones and legs were frozen for making soup at a later date.
Slow-Cooked Pheasant and Lamb Ingredients
- Pheasant crown
- 4 to 6 ounce leg of lamb steak (fat intact)
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 medium carrots
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 pints chicken stock (or as required)
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Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 7 hours
Ready in: 7 hours 15 min
Yields: 2 portions
Very carefully and using a cleaver or robust chef's knife, cut the crown firstly in half lengthways to essentially create two, on the bone breast portions. Proceed to cut each portion into three equal-sized pieces. It is important to cook the pheasant on the bone, both from a point of view of creating flavour and helping (along with the fattiness of the lamb) to keep it moist.
Pour two or three tablespoons of oil in to a large heavy frying pan or skillet and bring it up to a high heat. Season the pheasant portions with salt and pepper before browning all over in the hot pan. You may need to do this in two batches, depending upon the size of your pan.
Lift the pheasant pieces when browned from the pan and into the cavity of your slow cooker.
Leave all the fat on the lamb. Chop to around eight equal-sized pieces.
Season the lamb pieces and brown in the frying pan as you did the pheasant pieces. Remove to the slow cooker along with the pheasant.
Wash, top and tail the carrots and roughly chop. Peel the onion and chop in to six pieces. Add the lot to the slow cooker and scatter with the dried thyme. Pour over the chicken stock, fit the lid in place and cook on the low setting for seven hours.
Accompaniments: List of Ingredients
- Baby new potatoes (quantity as required)
- Vegetable oil
- ½ small red cabbage
- 1 large pear
- Generous pinch ground nutmeg
- Salt and black pepper
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 2 hours (including cooling time for potatoes half way through cooking)
Ready in: 2 hours 5 min
Yields: 2 portions
At least a couple of hours before the slow-cooked pheasant and lamb is due to be ready, wash the potatoes, cut them in half and add them to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked. Drain, return to the empty pot and set aside to cool completely.
When the potatoes are cool, pour enough vegetable oil into the base of a casserole or similar dish to comfortably cover the base and place the cold dish into your oven to preheat to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8. Carefully add the potatoes to the hot oil, stir gently around with a wooden spoon, and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes (uncovered) or until crisp, stirring carefully again halfway through cooking.
The cabbage should be washed and shaken dry before the core is removed courtesy of a V-shaped cut wedge. Lay the half cabbage flat and slice across the way, separating each slice into strands.
Wash the pear, cut it in half down through the centre and cut out the core before slicing fairly thickly.
When the pheasant and lamb is ready, switch off your slow cooker and remove the meat to a plate with a slotted spoon to rest for about 15 minutes.
Pour two or three tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a large frying pan and bring it up to a high heat. Add the cabbage, season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper and saute for a couple of minutes until the cabbage is just starting to soften. Add the pear and saute for one further minute.
Divide the meat between two serving plates before plating the accompaniments alongside. Drizzle a little of the cooking liquid over the meat to serve.
© 2019 Gordon Hamilton