Pot-roast pheasant with pancetta, apples and a bread gravy
Author: Jeanne Horak-Druiff
Recipe type: Entree
If you've never cooked pheasant before, this is a simple recipe that minimises the chances of the birds drying out. And even better - the bread gravy literally makes itself!
3 pheasants (if, like me, you have no idea of the age of the birds, marinate them overnight)
FOR THE MARINADE
juice of 3 lemons
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp white wine
FOR THE POT-ROAST:
2 slices of soft, doughy white bread, crusts removed
4 large apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 small lemons
18 rashers of pancetta (or streaky bacon)
500ml white wine
3-4 of sprigs of fresh thyme
To marinade, place one third of the ingredients in to each of 3 separate resealable plastic bags, together with one of the birds, Squeeze out all the air, seal, and leave in the fridge overnight.
The next day, pre heat oven to 160c. Cover the base of a large, lidded oven-proof casserole dish with the slices of bread (I used a 5 litre Corningware casserole).
Chop the apples (no need to peel). Press half the chopped apples into the body cavities of the bird, and scatter the rest of the chopped apples over the bread layer.
Chop half the pancetta and scatter over the bread layer. Remove the woody bits from the thyme and scatter the leaves and soft stems onto the layer of bread.
Cut each lemon in half, squeeze the lemon juice over the pheasants, and rub it in. Halve the squeezed lemons and place one half in the cavity of each bird.
Divide the rest of the pancetta equally between the birds and lay the slices over the breast of each bird so that they overlap. Carefully place each bird breast-down on the layer of bread in the casserole. Carefully pour the glass of wine over the birds.
Close the casserole lid tightly Place in the centre of the preheated oven for 1.5 hours. Use a fork to check if the bird is cooked and tender, and continue roasting if necessary.
Once the birds are tender, remove the casserole dish from the oven and carefully turn each bird over so that the pancetta-covered breast faces up. Increase the oven temperature to 180C and return the casserole (without lid) to the oven to brown the bird for ten minutes. Once the cooking is done, stir in the brandy, replace lid and allow to stand in a warm place while you finalise your vegetable accompaniments.
Once you are ready to serve, remove the birds from the casserole to a chopping board and stir the sauce well, scraping up any bits stuck to the casserole. Cut each bird approximately in half and serve each guest half a bird on mashed potato with vegetables and lots of bacon & apple gravy.
Recipe by Cooksister at http://www.cooksister.com/2012/11/pot-roast-pheasant-with-pancetta-apples-and-a-bread-gravy.html