Game Birds: Pheasant, Partridge and Quail

I love game – whether Pheasant, Quail, Partridge, Venison or Boar.   Game meat is typically stronger in flavour than farmed meats like chicken, pork or beef. These recipes came about when a friend turned up with a Pheasant, a pair of Partridge and four Quail.   I was unsure what to do with the feathery carcasses.   Hanging them in a locked shed for a few days provided an instant solution while I wrestled with the conundrum of what to do.   A sensible thing to do as it transpired..

A few days later following a chat with a nurse, a dear friend’s mother to whom I’ll always be grateful, and her practical lesson in dressing both Pheasant and Partridge I had the birds ready for cooking.   I’ll spare you the details of how to (un)dress a pheasant however.

Read on for a Phesant and Partridge casserole recipe – Pheasant and Partridge cooked with shallots, herbs and wine and served with Celeriac and Potato mash.   I’ll write up a recipe for Quail with rose petals and Pomegranate with delicate spicing later … male_pheasant_drawing_by_chuckrondeau-d3fxptb

Pheasant & Partridge

With a pheasant and a pair of partridge that you’ll end up with enough food for at least 6 people.   Read on for the method, make your own ingredients list from it.

  • Take the beautiful (prepared) meat and with a sturdy knife cut into even sized pieces, bones and all
  • Rub 4 tablespoons of flour into the meat (with a good slug of olive oil)
  • Add freshly ground pepper and finely chopped Rosemary, Thyme and Parsley to the meat and again, rub into the meat (then wash yr hands!) and set aside for an hour – I avoid salt at this stage as it toughens the meat
  • Reserve some Thyme and Parsley to add later
  • Finely chop 3 shallots, a couple of sticks of celery and a carrot (chop celery and carrot v. finely indeed) – sweat these on a medium heat till golden in a generous amount of olive oil to which you have added an inch of cinammon bark
  • Whack the heat up high
  • Add the meat (flour herbs and all) to the shallots, celery and carrot, brown the meat turning frequently (you really need heat for this – anything less and you’ll end up with tough and rubbery meat, a ruination)
  • After about 4 minutes add a cup of water to the meat and ensure that the pan is thoroughly deglazed
  • Once the pan is deglazed (the water will probably have largely cooked off by now), add a good amount of water to the dish, about a litre ought to do it, added gradually in two or three stages – never at once …
  • I also add a small glass of white wine at this stage
  • You should now have a reasonable and flavoursome gravy starting to form … I add a tablespoon of Bisto dissolved in an inch of water at this stage or one of those clever little chicken stock pots, a purist might take a week to cook this by boiling bones to make a stock from start, I don’t have the time
  • Stir well, add a twist of pepper and about half the herbs you set aside earlier, stir again … turn heat down and cover to simmer gently for 5 minutes
  • Taste the gravy, add a dash more water if needed and any seasoning – cover and simmer on a v. low heat for 25 minutes

I serve this with Celeriac and Potato mash – take an equal amount of each vegetable, peel and boil well.   Once boiled, mash with a generous knob of butter, a twist of mace and a pinch of salt and if needed, two tablespoons of milk. To serve – Plop some mash onto a plate, to one side.   Ladle into the plate the lovely game and gravy.   Dust the casserole with the remainder of your fresh finely chopped Parsley and enjoy.