This was a ‘what needed using up’ dish after checking out the contents of my freezer and realising if I didn’t use up the last lonely pheasant it would still be there at the end of the summer, relegated to the back shelves long with the unused cranberries and a couple of unlabelled freezer bags, the contents of which are anyone’s guess.
I don’t like wasting any kind of food but I get really upset at the thought of throwing away anything from an animal. On its own it would not have fed us all, but I decided to make a feast out of this precious little bird and accompany it with some braising steak and pork belly.
Red cabbage is one of my favourite vegetables and it is a shame it is mostly associated with the Christmas season, a bit like it’s little green cousin the Brussel Sprout, much underused and maligned. Raw red cabbage makes a wonderfully fresh coleslaw and cooked it is a beautiful accompaniment, served hot or cold, to pork and ham.
If you want to use more than one pheasant and leave out one of the meats, leave out the beef as opposed to the pork belly. The fat on the pork gives the dish that wonderful unctuousness and benefits the lean pheasant, which tends to be on the dry side.
I spatchcocked the pheasant only to fit it in the shallow casserole dish. Personal preference presides really, you could cut it in half if you wanted to serve half a pheasant to each guest alongside the meats, much easier than carving at the table or leave it whole if you prefer and are using a taller pan.
- Sunflower Oil for frying
- 1-2 Pheasants
- 5-6 Pieces of Pork Belly (about 4-5 ins long each)
- 300g approx. Braising Steak or Shin of Beef Cut into Large Pieces
- 1 Large Red Onion, sliced
- 1 Small Head Red Cabbage, sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped.
- 2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
- 350ml Red Wine
- 200ml Water
- 3 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ½ Teaspoon Allspice
- 6 Juniper Berries
- Salt and Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 170c
- Heat a splash of oil in a large oven proof casserole dish and fry the birds and the meat until lightly browned all over. You may have to do this in batches.
- With all the meat in the pan pour over the wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes then add the water and cider vinegar
- Add the onion, cabbage, garlic, allspice, juniper and bay leaf.
- The pan will be quite full but this will reduce in the oven.
- Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
- Bring up to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Cover with the lid or foil and place in the oven.
- After cooking for an hour, stir and baste the pheasant if it is sticking out of the cabbage.
- Add more seasoning to taste if required.
- Leave to cook for another hour to hour and a half, stirring and basting occasionally, until the meat is tender when prodded with a fork.