Faisan au Verger

Pheasant

This is an excellent Normandy method of cooking older or slightly tough cock pheasants with apples. Frozen whole or jointed pheasants and guinea fowl are also suitable.

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

1 large pheasant
1 bay leaf
1 sprig parsley
Salt and black pepper
1 onion
2 sticks celery
2 cooking apples
2-3 level tablespoons plain flour
40g butter
150ml cider
2 tablespoons Calvados (optional)
65ml double cream

Garnish:
2 dessert apples
Celery leaves


1. Joint the pheasant by first removing the legs, then cut away the two breast sections down and along the backbone. Leave the flesh on the bone, so that it will not shrink during cooking, and cut off the wing pinions.

2. Put the pheasant carcass, the neck and the cleaned giblets into a pan, together with the bay leaf, parsley, and a seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with cold water, put the lid on the pan and simmer this stock over low heat for about 20 minutes.

3. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Cut the leafy tops off the celery and set aside for garnish. Scrub the celery sticks and chop them finely. Peel, core and roughly chop the cooking apples.

4. Coat the pheasant joints lightly with a little flour, and heat the butter in a flameproof casserole or heavy-based pan. Fry the pheasant over high heat until golden brown all over, then remove from the casserole. Lower the heat and fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the apples and fry for a further 5 minutes. Draw the casserole from the heat and stir in sufficient of the remaining flour to absorb all the fat. Gradually blend in the cider (and Calvados if used) and pint of strained pheasant stock. Bring this sauce to simmering point over low heat.

5. Put the pheasant back into the casserole, and if necessary add more stock to the sauce until it almost covers the joints.

6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper, and cover the casserole with a lid.

7. Cook the casserole in the centre of a pre-heated oven, at 160C/325F (mark 3), for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove the pheasant and keep warm in the oven. Boil the sauce briskly on top of the stove, stir into the cream and pour this, mixture back into the pan; adjust seasoning.

8. Return the pheasant joints to the sauce and serve straight from the casserole. Alternatively, arrange the joints on a warm deep serving dish and spoon the sauce over them. Surround with the cored, but unpeeled apples, cut into thick slices and fried in a little butter until golden. Push a small tuft of celery leaves through the centre of each apple slice.

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