Recipe: Pot-roasted pheasant with cider and apple

Photo: Russell Brown

Photo: Russell Brown - Credit: Archant

This autumnal pot-roast brings together pheasant, cider and apples, making it the perfect feast for cold November evenings

As with most game, pheasant is very lean and care needs to be taken with the cooking to keep the flesh moist. Pot-roasting is a great technique for smallish birds. As the meat cooks gently in the steam, it is flavoured both by the aromatic liquids and the caramelisation from the initial sear in a pan. Fat from good streaky bacon also helps and, as with any meat cookery, the final stage of resting before carving is absolutely vital.

Serves 4 as a main course


2 pheasant crowns

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

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2 cloves of garlic, sliced

150ml cider

200ml chicken or pheasant stock

4 slices smoked, streaky bacon, stretched with the back of a knife and cut in half

2 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges

75ml double cream

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 tsp cornflour slaked in 1 tbsp cold water

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 160?C.

2. Rub the pheasant skin with 1 tsp of oil and season well. Heat a heavy-based frying pan andvery quickly seal the pheasants on the skin side. Remove the pheasant and use the same pan tosoften the onions in the remaining oil, adding a pinch of salt.

3. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer. Pour in the cider and reduce completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

4. Tip the onion mix into a large casserole which will hold the pheasants fairly tightly. Place the sealed pheasants in the casserole, cover the birds with the strips of bacon, scatter the apple around and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

5. Remove the pheasant to rest in a warm place. Take off the bacon and crisp under a hot grill. Drain the liquid from the casserole into a pan, add the cream and mustard and place over a high heat to reduce slightly. Thicken with the cornflour, adding gradually as you may not need it all - a thick double-cream consistency is what you are looking for. Adjust the seasoning and add the sauce back to the apple and onion mix.

6. Carve the breasts from the pheasant, checking for shot as you do so. Divide the sauce with the apple and onion between the plates, top with the pheasant and finish with the bacon.

7. Serve with creamy mash and some buttered greens. u

Recipe taken from Well Seasoned by Russell Brown and Jonathan Haley, published by Head of Zeus. Contact:,, Follow them on Twitter: @seasonalfood, @RussellBCaC

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