Roast Pheasant with
Juniper Berries and Red Wine
I would recommend leaving the bird whole bird to roast pheasant are in season as they do not cook as well from the freezer, but they do freeze very well. Pheasant hens tend to be plumper and better for roasting. Cock pheasants take well to lengthier cooking times as they can be tougher.
2 pheasants or partridges
1 packet of pancetta cubes/lardons or bacon rind cut into small pieces
8 shallots peeled and left whole
3 sticks of celery sliced up into small pieces
2 wine glasses of red wine (a wine with body such as Cabernet Sauvignion
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
1 dessert spoon of juniper berries.
8 freshly ground black or red pepper corns
A bunch of fresh thyme - stalks removed
100 gm of unsalted butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180°F/350°C/Gas 4.
In a pestle and mortar, grind salt, peppercorns, cumin seeds and juniper berries until you have a fine powder.
Clean birds, wash and pat dry.
Heat 50 g of butter in a heavy casserole dish. Add bacon and cook until lightly brown.
Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and put to one side.
Brown the birds on all sides in the butter and bacon fat, then remove birds.
Add another 2 g of butter. Add shallots and celery. Maintain heat and cook until lightly browned. Keep them moving.
Add powder mixture and stir constantly.
Add wine and bacon and keep stirring. Once bubbling, add birds on top, adding more port, wine or water if too dry. (You need about 3 cm of liquid).
Add thyme. Put a tight lid on the pot and cook birds in the hot oven for 45 minutes at 180°F/350°C/Gas 4.
Check birds half way through cooking time and turn them over.
At the end, check that the juices from the birds run clear.
Slice breast meat and legs and serve with sauce poured over. Good with carrot and potato puree and baked parsnips.