Top tips for cooking with pheasant, from a Masterclass at jamie's hq

If you’re really serious about eating organic, wild and seasonal food, then pheasant should be on your shopping list.

As a farmer’s daughter, I grew up on pheasant casserole in Autumn and Winter. So when the invitation to Jamie Oliver’s HQ for a Pheasant Masterclass landed at my door, I couldn't resist.

Jamie’s trusted right hand men Gennaro Contaldo, Andy Appleton and Jon Rotherham were there to guide me and other keen bloggers through their ideas for this fabulous fowl.

Andy Appleton, Head Chef at Fifteen Cornwall 
So what did we learn? Here are their top tips for cooking with pheasant:

1.Pheasant either wants cooking very quickly or very slowly. Nothing in between.
2.Hen pheasants tend to have more fat on them and are generally more tender.
3.Try to get pheasants that haven’t hung for more than four days if you’re not keen on the gamey flavour.
4.Pheasant meat has B vitamins, potassium, readily absorbable iron and protein, zinc and vitamin C.
5. For cock pheasants, a top tip is to look at the spurs on their legs – if they’re big the pheasant is older and will need cooking longer (thanks Dad for this one).

Gennaro Contaldo, the animated Italian chef often seen with Jamie on the telly, did a delicious pheasant breast dish. The breast was duly bashed to tenderise it (although as he showed us it was incredibly tender to start with), then stuffed simply with half a red chilli, half a garlic clove with skin on and a verdant sprig of rosemary.

This one was all gluten and dairy free and so simple. The result was really delicious and you can easily imagine doing it after a busy day at work; in fact the bashing would be good relaxation.

He also showed us a trick to sear the meat while in the pan - you can use a brick but here he uses a bowl to make sure the meat is crispy.

Jon Rotherham, the head chef at Fifteen London, then went on to cook a pheasant and pork sausage with kale, pickled quince (delicious) and game chips.

Sicilian Caponata cooked by head chef at Fifteen Cornwall Andy Appleton was amazing. It included seasonal squash, soaked raisins and caramelised onion. It was an excellent fruity-sweet side to the pheasant. Because of this it would go equally well with other game, including venison.  

How do you cook your game? I'd love to know.

Thanks to Merlin, Jim and the chefs for a wonderful evening. If you'd like to get some great game recipes, try here. And if you want to find out where to buy game online, try here.

p.s. For some other pheasanty posts, try these blogs too:
The lovely Ren Behan and Layla Kazim also Rachel at The Food I Eat 

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