With Matt Lyons, head chef of The Jolly Crick­eters in Seer Green

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLEANDPLACES - IN­TRO: HIS­TORY: METHOD­OL­OGY: Visit us at www.cock­tail­maker for fur­ther ad­vice and tips

IS the sea­son to be jolly, tra la la la la la la la la… I can’t sing but I can’t help burst­ing into song and feel­ing the fes­tive spirit as I am writ­ing this recipe. This week we’re go­ing very fes­tive with a recipe for Pheas­ants on Horse­back.

Th­ese lit­tle num­bers are sim­ply fan­tas­tic, not only served as a canapé or snack, but as part of all the trim­mings with your Christ­mas feast.

The game sea­son is in full swing and hope­fully ev­ery­one has en­joyed a pheas­ant or two so far this sea­son. They are easy to come by and if, like me, you pre­fer to cook the breast and legs sep­a­rately, then this recipe is an ideal one to use up the pheas­ant legs that have ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing the sea­son.

You will be pleas­antly sur­prised how much meat is on a pheas­ant’s leg – quite a lot once it’s cooked well and you flake the meat from the bone.

The leg meat can be quite dry and mix­ing it with the drunken prunes and sausage­meat turns it into de­li­cious suc­cu­lent lit­tle snacks. 50g cel­ery, finely diced 200g Cum­ber­land sausage­meat 2tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs (chives,

chervil, pars­ley, sage) 12 rash­ers smoked streaky ba­con, cut in half

width­ways Sea salt and freshly cracked black pep­per Method Pre­heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Put the chopped prunes into a small bowl, pour over the Ar­magnac and stir, then leave to soak while the pheas­ant legs are cook­ing. Place the pheas­ant legs in a roast­ing tin; pour over half the oil and sea­son with salt and black pep­per. Roughly chop the thyme leaves and scat­ter over the pheas­ant legs. Roast in the oven for 25-30 min­utes or un­til the skin is golden brown and crisp and the meat is soft, flaky and cooked. Re­move from the oven and let the pheas­ant legs cool for 30 min­utes be­fore flak­ing the meat from the bones. Dis­card the bones and skin. Mean­while, heat the re­main­ing oil in a small saucepan over a low heat, add the shal­lot, garlic, cel­ery, salt and black pep­per, cover and sweat un­til cooked and com­pletely soft­ened – this should take 8-10 min­utes. Re­move from the heat and leave to cool. Put the flaked pheas­ant meat into a mix­ing bowl, with the cooled shal­lot mix­ture, the sausage­meat, chopped herbs and soaked prunes and Ar­magnac and mix un­til well com­bined. Di­vide and roll the mix­ture into 24 even-size balls and then shape each one into a ‘sausage’ about 2cm in di­am­e­ter. Wrap one piece of streaky ba­con around each ‘sausage’ and se­cure with a cock­tail stick. Place them in a roast­ing tin and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 min­utes be­fore cook­ing. This will firm them up and pre­vent them from fall­ing apart whilst cook­ing. Once rested, heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4

again. Cook the pheas­ants on horse­back for 12-15 min­utes, or un­til the ba­con is golden brown and crisp and the sausage­meat mix­ture is cooked all the way through. Re­move from the oven, cover with foil and let them rest for 5 min­utes be­fore ar­rang­ing on a plate to serve. Makes 24 canapés, or serves eight to 12 as part of the Christ­mas meal.

A sweet drink with a de­cep­tive bite from the pas­sion fruit liqueur, which is the cock­tail’s se­cret weapon. Its simplicity makes it ideal to serve in the fes­tive sea­son.

This is a sta­ple of any good cock­tail bar­tender’s reper­toire. It’s also a vari­ant of ’Red Hot Pas­sion’, which in­tro­duces triple sec and amaretto to the mix. Both are equally de­li­cious but the lat­ter should be sipped with cau­tion, its sweet taste be­ly­ing its strength!

Add one shot of pas­sion fruit liqueur, one shot of vodka, three shots of cran­berry juice, three shots of freshly squeezed orange juice to a shaker tin filled with ice, shake and strain into an ice-filled glass. Add an op­tional split cherry to gar­nish.

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