Monday, 31 October 2011

A Rather Un-Scary Halloween Pheasant Casserole

Real actual blood clots...
After deciding we were going to go out, get dressed up and go for it this Halloween, my friend Hannah and I decided to go for a three course feast and X-Factor from the comfort of my sofa. I wanted it to be Halloween themed, for fun, but apart from involving pumpkins my imagination failed me. I could have just cooked frighteningly horrid food but that would benefit no-one. I giggled childishly as I bought two little pumpkins for us to carve, in my head plotting a salad involving roasted pumpkin, Serrano ham and rocket. And coriander seeds, and chilli. Mmmm. I'll post that later. I cooked this accompanied by amazing 'blood clot' cocktails courtesy of Hannah (Prosecco, pomegranate juice, and seeds, lush).

One of last year's pheasants was screaming to be pulled out of its icy grave, and Hannah was a pheasant virgin, so that was an easy decision. I cooked a tasty Italian casserole based on a Jamie Oliver recipe, I like this one because two people can eat the breasts, then the two legs can be shredded of meat later for a delicious pasta sauce*.

So this feeds two, with enough meat left over to make pasta sauce for 2 as well. Pull the old bird out of the freezer (don't do as I did and not leave enough time for it to defrost, cue frantic dipping in hot water filled sink). Remove the breasts and legs from the pheasant, (actually that was quite frightening, I really need some better skills there) you won't need the carcass. Preheat the oven to 180c, and dust the meat in seasoned flour. Brown the meat in a casserole dish, in a little olive oil. Remove the pheasant and set aside, and soften a chopped carrot, 2 sticks of chopped celery, a chopped red onion and three chopped garlic cloves. When nicely softened add a bay leaf and a sprig of parsley, a glass of red wine, 150g of chestnuts (you can get those brilliant vacuum pack ones), three crushed juniper berries, and mix well. Return the pheasant, cover with a double layer of foil and stick the lid on. Put it in the oven for at least an hour and a half, until the meat is really tender (no-one likes a tough old bird). I went proper Italian and served the breasts with polenta.

Enjoy with plenty of tasty red, and don't knock your plate off your knees as you squeal at the performances and judging on X-Factor.

*To make the pasta sauce just take all the meat off the legs and stir a big blob of creme fraiche through, bubbling up with more wine if there's not enough liquid.

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