Portion/Yield:Serves 2 as a main course
This casserole is one of those homely one-pot wonders that is like a huge hug of comforting warmth. ‘Forestière’ translates as ‘foods from the forest’ and the combination of wild mushrooms and pheasant are a reminder of the two living alongside each other in the wild. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or boiled brown rice.
Ingredients & Method
- 1 oven-ready pheasant (about 500g)
- 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 150g small round onions or shallots, peeled
- 150g mixed fresh wild mushrooms and field mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 150g celery, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 100ml dry sherry or dry white wine
- 50ml brandy or cognac
- 250ml chicken stock
- 100ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Remove the legs and breasts from the pheasant, then remove and discard the skin from the breasts. Wrap a rasher of bacon around each pheasant breast. Season the pheasant legs with salt and pepper.
Melt half of the butter in a large casserole and once the butter starts to foam, add the pheasant legs and breasts and cook over a high heat for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown all over. Remove the legs and breasts to a plate.
Return the casserole to a medium heat, add the remaining butter and once it starts to foam, add the onions, mushrooms, celery and garlic and sauté for about 8 minutes or until golden. Pour the sherry and brandy into the pan and let the liquid bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the casserole with a wooden spoon to deglaze it, then cook over a medium heat for about 2 minutes or until the liquid has thickened slightly. Return the browned meat to the casserole, then add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Place a piece of non-stick baking paper directly on to the surface of the stock and cover with the lid. Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook for about 35 minutes or until the pheasant is cooked and tender.
Remove from the oven and carefully remove the pheasant breasts and legs from the stock, then set them aside and keep warm, while you finish the sauce. Place the casserole over a medium heat, add the cream and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Serve 1 pheasant leg and 1 pheasant breast per portion with plenty of sauce. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes or boiled brown rice and steamed seasonal greens.
If you like the sound of this dish but aren’t able to buy a pheasant or are not keen on its gamey flavour, you can substitute it for partridge, chicken or even rabbit – the cooking times will be the same.