Sunday, 20 November 2011

Pheasant terrine

At this time of year I often find myself with more pheasants than I know what to do with. They can be delicious roasted (remove the legs and roast the breast on the bone with butter, apples and Calvados for 30 minutes at 230C), confit (lightly cure the legs over night with a dry mix of course salt, thyme and juniper, before covering in duck fat and cooking slowly for 4 hours), curried, braised, pot roasted, braised….almost any recipe which uses chicken can be applied to pheasant. Pheasants usually have a deeper, more satisfying flavour than a chicken – think of the hedgerow diets of berries, worms, grubs and grains that pheasant gorge themselves on all autumn.

Whilst I’d except to pay £15-£20 for a decent chicken, pheasants are often sold for a fiver a brace in the feather in rural butchers and farm shops, and £7-8 a brace plucked and dressed.
Here is a recipe for an autumnal terrine which celebrates the abundance of this versatile game bird.
  • 1 large pheasant, skinned and gutted (keep the liver, heart and gizzard)
  • 400g fatty pork (shoulder or belly)
  • 150g good quality bacon
  • 100ml brandy
  • Small bunch sage, chopped
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 quince (roasted in 100gsugar, star anise, cinnamon for 90minutes, cooled and diced)
  • 1 leek
Joint the pheasant into 2 breasts, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks.  Make a cut up the side of the drumsticks, remove the bone and all of the sinews and tendons. Remove the bones from the thighs. Take one of the breasts and dice into 1cm cubes and set aside, along with the remaining whole breast.
Dice the bacon and the pork, and add to the pheasant leg meat. Add the heart, liver and gizzard (cleaned and trimmed). Mix well with the salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, juniper, sage and brandy. Put this mix into a food processor and pulse until the meats are well minced. Be careful not to blitz for too long continuously, which will destroy the protein structure, and result in a sticky, pastey texture.
In a large bowl, combine this mix with the diced pheasant breast and quince.
Bring a pan of water to a rapid boil. Take the leek, trim both ends, and make a cut half way into the leek and slice down the length, to separate each layer of the leek. Blanch in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh in iced water.

Line a terrine or bread tin in cling film, and lay each leek left along the bottom and sides (see picture below).
Start adding the meat, pressing firmly down to avoid air pockets. When almost half of the mixture is in the tin, take the whole pheasant breast, and lay it on top of the mixture, then add the rest of the mixture to encase the whole breast in the centre. When you have all the mixture in the tin, pull the cling film tightly over the top to seal, and cover in foil.

 Place in a bain-marie and cook at 180C for 70-80minutes. Take the terrine out of the bain-marie and allow to settle for an hour or two. Keep the terrine in the tin and find a weight slightly smaller than the tin to press the terrine with. A standard brick works (wrapped in foil). Leave in the tin, with the weight on top for 12 hours before cutting and serving.
The addition of quince gives a sweet flavour to this dense, meaty terrine.

Serve with watercress, toast and cornichons.  


Anonymous said...

lowerclopton farm shop near Mickleton sell Pheasent for a fiver a brace.

David_Jowett said...

Lower Clopton farm shop sells the best game around! deleicous, well shot pheasants, as well as fresh veg! My favourite farm shop in the area ;)

Mike said...

Just tried your suggestion to confit some pheasant legs. Am very impressed. The juniper was a good addition to the cure. I should maybe have washed the cured legs more thoroughly, since the taste was too salty for my palate.. However the texture and flavour was exemplary. Thanks for the suggestion. Will cook again, maybe for friends