Autumn now draws to a close and the nights steadily grow in darkness and length. The approach of the festive season makes me realise that it never ceases to amaze me how tremendously fast a whole year can go by. Not only is this a wonderful time to enjoy the crackling of fires and cosy comfort of jumpers and wools, but it is also a time to truly enjoy and bask in the pleasures of comfort food.
Game season is a wonderful time to explore the different flavours of lesser known, or seemingly lesser desired, options that are available to us, such as guinea fowl, rabbit, grouse or even partridge. With each one thoroughly delicious, albeit unique and strong in flavour. Hopefully, by this time next Autumn, this blog will see a great deal more recipes for game and other fall delights, but for the mean time, this will be my second and last autumn post for the year.
For this fairly small post, we want to give you just a little insight into our small, quiet, but savoury Thanksgiving this year. Djamo and I are beginning to scour and save recipes that we really enjoy and that can be enjoyed later on, and this is one such recipe. Here I provide a recipe for pheasant, as an alternative to the usual turkey for Thanksgiving. I imagine it would work wonderfully with another bird as well, such as chicken, and cannot wait to try it. As it was only the two of us that we set out to entertain, apart from our little ray of sunshine who enjoyed the occasional tiny slither of meat, the cooking itself was fairly relaxed and devoid of pressure, something that Djamo really appreciated. To all those who celebrated Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving last week: Happy belated Thanksgiving!
Pan-Roasted, Brown Buttered Pheasant with Pears, Chestnuts and Vanilla + a Floral Cranberry and Thyme Sauce
I was completely inspired by Eva Kosmas Flores new book ‘Adventures in Chicken’ as outlined by The Kitchen McCabe. With Autumn comes not only the game season, but also orchard fruits: a match made in heaven. Usually, Djamo and I usually spend our Friendsgiving with friends and family residing close by or visiting England. Sadly enough, everyone seems to have moved away and we weren’t as lucky as to have any visitors any time soon. Therefore, we decided to enjoy this little feast together with our little ray of sunshine earlier last week. Even though turkey is the classic Thanksgiving fowl, we opted for a different bird, one easily forgotten but nonetheless in season. If you do decide to try this recipe with a different bird, please make changes to the cooking times.
Cooking time: 2 hours + overnight
Serves: 1-2 people
Pan-Roasted Pheasant with Pears
7 strips of bacon
Vanilla Sea Salt Brine
6 cups water
4tbsp sea salt
6-8 stems thyme
1-2 stems rosemary
4-5 allspice, whole
1 vanilla pod, sliced lengthways
1tbsp apple cider
2tbsp Nika whisky
pinch of sea salt
seeds of 1 vanilla pod,
1/8tsp allspice, ground
1/8tsp ginger, ground
1/4tsp cinnamon, ground
6 springs of thyme, chopped finely
1/8tsp black pepper
1 garlic bulb, finely chopped
1/2tsp of orange zest
Cinnamon Vanilla (Brown) Butter
1/2tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of sea salt
1 large shallot, chopped coarsely
1 1/2tbsp unflavoured butter
1tbsp herbed butter
1/4cup chestnuts, cooked and pealed coarsely chopped
2 rashers of bacon, cut into pieces
1-2tsp Nika whisky
2/3cup fresh breadcrumbs
4 springs of thyme, finely chopped
1tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup organic pâté de champagne or another pâté of your choice, chopped coarsely
The night before cooking the pheasant, you need to make the brine and the flavoured butters so that there is less to do the following day. Place all the ingredients for the Vanilla Sea Salt Brine into a bowl along with the pheasant. Wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Next, making the flavoured butters, separately rolling each into the form of a log and wrapping in clingfilm. Place in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan-oven, 375ºF). Take out the butters and allow to come to room temperature. Place the unflavoured butter and the herbed butter into a skillet, along with the shallot and the bacon and cook over a medium heat for around 10 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the heat and place in a bowl. When cool enough, add the chestnuts, whisky, breadcrumbs, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon and pâté to the bowl and mix.
Take out the pheasant from the refrigerator and remove from the the brine. Pat dry with a paper towel (ensure that the cavity is dried too) and place in a skillet or pan. Slice the pears in half and place in the skillet, around the bird.
Cut the herbed butter into coins and rub all over the bird and place into any pockets of skin, particularly on the breast. Next, on a cutting board, arrange the bacon into a lattice structure (i.e. as one would with a pie crust) before gently and carefully transferring on to the pheasants’ breasts (tip: you can use rosemary springs to hold the bacon in place). Stuff the pheasants cavity with stuffing and place in the oven, covered loosely with aluminium foil and roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the brown butter with the Cinnamon Vanilla Butter (see here for instructions). When the bird has been roasting for 30 minutes, take out and baste generously with the brown butter (baste the pears, too). Wrap loosely once again with the foil and place in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Take out a baste once again. Place the bird back into the oven, covered loosely in the foil and roast for a further 5-10 minutes or until the juices run clean.
Once ready, take out of the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving with a side of vegetables and the Floral Cranberry and Thyme Sauce.
Floral Cranberry and Thyme Sauce
Not only can this recipe be made in advance, it makes quite a lot of sauce as well. So any leftovers can easily be frozen for later use. With the rosewater, start with small amounts and work your way up until you achieve the right flavour, otherwise the sauce may taste overly bitter and soapy.
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes: 600 ml
1/2 tbsp rosewater (optional)
2 cups cranberries, fresh
6 springs of thyme (optional)
zest and juice of 2 clementines
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
Place the cranberries, clementine juice and zest, sugar, salt, water and thyme into a saucepan and allow to come to a boil over a medium heat. Allow the cranberries to burst, which will take about 10-12 minutes before reducing the heat to a low and allowing to cook for a further 5 minutes until the liquids have reduced slightly. Add the rosewater and turn off the heat. Set aside until cool.
Thank you for reading.