Game time

Fresh pheasant shot by butcher Neil is now available at Arthurs. This is how we cooked it.

November 13, 2017 — Autumn is moving inexorably into winter, a wonderful time of the year. As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, this is the moment to enjoy rich warming foods such as local game.

Neil, butcher at Arthurs, likes to go out rough shooting in his free time. The proceeds of his bag often find their way into the display counter of the butcher’s shop. “How about a brace of pheasant,” he asks me, when I drop in. Why not? The rich gamey flavour of wildfowl is just the ticket for this time of year.

The Butcher at Darts Farm also has a good display of game at the moment while Good Game produces its classic venison salami, a deep-flavoured, delicious nibble with a glass a good red wine, seated in front of a roaring fire.

On the other hand, if you love game but don’t want to prepare it yourselves, Tom at The Salutation is offering a 4-course Game Menu from November 13-30  Mon-Thurs in The GlassHouse for £34.50pp – telephone 01392 873060 to reserve your space.

Braised and pan-roasted pheasant from Arthur’s

Brace of oven-ready pheasant, breasts and legs removed separately
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, sliced
3 sticks of celery, sliced
Half a bulb of fennel
Extra virgin olive oil (preferably Ca’ del Carbonaio)
1 clove garlic, unpeeled but crushed
1/2 onion, chopped; 1 carrot, diced; 1 stick of celery, chopped
Large glass of amontillado sherry, madeira or marsala (wine for cooking should also be good to drink: ask Jim at Topsham Wines for advice)
Puy lentils (cooked with chopped onion, carrots and celery)
Oven roasted butternut squash
Freshly ground black pepper

First make the pheasant stock. Brown the pheasant carcasses, then place in a stockpot together with the onion, carrots, celery and fennel. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to simmer, skim and leave to cook for two hours. Strain and season to taste.

In a small skillet, add a little extra virgin olive oil, and brown the pheasant legs over a high heat. Remove and add the unpeeled, crushed garlic, chopped carrot, onion and celery and cook until soft. Return the pheasant legs, add a good glug of sherry, madeira or marsala (flame if you want to be dramatic), then add a couple of ladles of the pheasant stock to nearly cover. Simmer gently for an hour or so or until the meat is falling off the bones. Remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Strain the braising liquid and boil down to a thick jus.

Meanwhile, cook some Puy lentils until tender.

Pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees C. In another skillet, heat some more extra virgin olive oil, then brown the pheasant breasts skin down. Turn and season and brown this side, too, then transfer to the oven for about 15 minutes or until cooked as you like it. Remove and allow to rest.

To serve, place a ladle of Puy lentils on a plate of bowl, scatter some roasted butternut squash around the plate, and top with the braised pheasant leg. Slice the pheasant breasts into 3 or 4 slices and lay over the top of each plate. Spoon over some of the pheasant jus.

Enjoy with a good bottle of Côtes de Rhône from Topsham Wines or Barbera d’Alba from Vino.

Marc Millon