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