This is a fantastic recipe to showcase pheasant – typically seasonal and perfect for winter dining. Pot-roast the legs until they are nice and succulent with a light touch of smoked bacon and barley and a magnificent roasted breast.
For the pheasant, remove the legs – you can always ask your butcher to do this for you. Keep the legs to one side for the pot-roasting later. Evenly season the pheasant crown with salt on all sides. Place the crown onto a tray and put in the oven at 120°C/250°F/gas mark ½ for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, brush the pheasant with melted butter and turn oven up to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Cook for a further 10 minutes. This will give you a crispy, golden bird. Remove from the oven, pour over the cooking liquid and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes. Once rested carefully place onto a presentation plate with some fresh herbs and serve to carve at the table. Alternatively you can remove the breasts, slice and serve.
For the pheasant legs, separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Place the pheasant thighs on a plate, skin side down. Evenly rub each one with the lemon zest and garlic then season with salt.
For the pearl barley casserole, in a medium-sized casserole pan, sweat the onion and pancetta for about a minute. Add the garlic, diced vegetables and barley and sweat for a further 2 minutes until it starts to caramelise slightly on the bottom. Deglaze with the white wine and reduce by three-quarters. Place the thighs on top, skin side up. Add the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, then place a lid on top and put in the oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 until the thighs are just cooked. Remove the lid from the pan and turn up the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Cook the pheasant for a further 10 minutes in order to crisp up the skin. Once done, remove the legs from the casserole and stir in the chopped soft herbs.
To serve, place the crown of pheasant onto a presentation board and serve the casserole pot of thighs and barley on the side.
Thank you to Lisa Goodwin-Allen for sharing this recipe with us. Recipe originally published in Glorious Game.
Spatch-cocking the pheasant means it can lie flat when grilled. It cooks at a relatively high temperature, allowing the skin to crisp on the outside, whilst the meat remains juicy and tender.