Sweet & Creamy Autumn Pheasant & Apple Casserole
Feeds 6 (or 8 when there are small children involved!)
Scrabbling around the deep freeze for inspiration, I found two slightly forlorn looking whole pheasants. We had my brother’s family staying and were all off to watch a rugby match in the morning. With various children in the group, I needed something that could be thrown together quickly in the morning and would be ready when we got back, hungry from a morning of shouting from the bright, but chilly, side lines. This is a deliciously creamy and sweet way to cook pheasants, just perfect for an autumn Sunday!
2 whole pheasants
1 medium onion, chopped
6 rashers of bacon – chopped, or 2 small packs of lardons
12 chipolata sausages
1 tbsp Flour
1 x 500 ml bottle of a crisp apple cider
2 large sprigs fresh sage
4 large carrots, roughly chopped
4 sweet soft apples, cored and chopped into about 8 pieces each
1 cup double cream
Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a large casserole dish, quickly brown the pheasants all over, remove from the pan and set to one side.
Add a generous knob of butter to the casserole dish, gently fry the onions in butter until they are soft and sweet smelling. Add the bacon bits and chipolatas and cook until these are lightly browned all over.
Sprinkle over the flour and stir gently for a minute or so. Add the cider, stir and allow to cook for a few more minutes.
Return the pheasants to the casserole and add the sage, chopped carrots and apples.
Top up the casserole with chicken stock so the pheasant is pretty much covered. Season to taste.
Bring to the boil. Put a lid on the casserole and if you have a four door Aga, move it to the top left oven and leave for at least 2 hours. Otherwise lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and leave to cook for the same amount of time.
Remove the pheasants to carve (the meat should be so meltingly tender, it will practically fall off the bone). Add the double cream to the remaining casserole and return to the heat, stirring for a minute.
This dish works perfectly with baked potatoes – meaning you can abandon the kitchen until the very last minute: time to rake those autumn leaves, prune back the shrubs; go for a crisp autumn walk with all the family or just read the Sunday paper from cover to cover…