Meals and Courses

  • 20 g (¾ oz) mixed dried mushrooms
  • 300 ml (½ pint) boiling water
  • 2 pheasants
  • 40 g (1½ oz) butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 100 g (3½ oz) smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 small parsnips, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed, plus 1 plump garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 300 ml (½ pint) red wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 small baguette
  • 2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
  • salt and pepper

Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour over the water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Rinse the pheasants and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter with the oil in a large flameproof casserole and fry the pheasants, one at a time, for 5 minutes until golden on all sides, draining to a plate. Add the bacon, onions, parsnips and garlic to the casserole and fry for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and blend in the wine, then stir in the mushrooms and their soaking liquid and the thyme. Bring to a simmer, stirring.

Return the pheasants to the casserole, nestling them into the vegetables. Cover and cook in a preheated oven, 150°C (300°F), Gas Mark 2, for 1¾ hours or until the pheasants are cooked through. Meanwhile, cut the baguette into thin slices and toast on both sides. Halve the garlic clove and rub the cut sides over the toast.

Transfer the pheasants to a board or carving platter, cover with foil and keep warm. Add the redcurrant jelly to the casserole and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Carve the pheasants and pile the meat on to the croutons on warmed serving plates. Spoon over the vegetables and gravy.

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