Pheasant with Stichelton Cheese, Barley and Quince
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
This recipe is dedicated to my mother and father and is a huge thank you to them for always putting a cooked meal on the table. They both worked full-time, and then coming home late, cooking dinner, managing the household and helping me with my homework were a struggle at the best of times. My mother’s prize possession was her pressure cooker. Mum used to put the entire meal into the pressure cooker and then, hey presto! dinner was served in half an hour. It’s quite impressive and I never realised the importance and relevance of this piece of equipment until fairly recently.
It’s become the ‘new’ toy for chefs because it’s fast and efficient, and under pressure the flavour and moisture are kept intact. I must agree it’s done a pretty good job of these pheasant legs and as far as an almost one pot meal goes, it’s pretty tasty too.
Ingredients & Method
For the pheasants
- 2 oven-ready pheasants (each about 100–120g)
- 50g Stichelton cheese, crumbled
- 75g unsalted butter, softened
For the barley and quince
- 75g unsalted butter
- 150g celery, diced
- 150g (peeled) onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 400g (prepared weight), quinces, peeled, cored and diced
- 100g pearl barley
- 4 pheasant legs (from the prepared birds above)
- 225ml red wine
- 225ml pheasant or chicken stock
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 150g cavolo nero leaves, shredded
- toasted linseeds and sunflower seeds
First, prepare the pheasants. Remove the legs from the crowns and set aside. Remove the breasts from the carcasses (use the carcasses to make a stock, if you like – see page 22 of my cookbook for a recipe for Roasted Game Stock). Using a sharp knife, make an incision in the thick part of each pheasant breast and divide the Stichelton cheese among the 4 breasts, pushing it into the cavities created. Rub some of the softened butter over each breast on the skin side only, then refrigerate until needed.
To cook the barley and quince, place the pressure cooker pan over a medium heat, add the butter, then once it has melted, add the celery, onion, garlic and salt and pepper and sauté for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables turn transparent and start to brown. Add the quinces and barley and stir, then place the pheasant legs on top and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine and stock. Secure the pressure cooker lid in place and ensure the heat is medium, then once the cooker reaches pressure and starts to make a hissing noise, reduce the heat to low and set a timer for 25 minutes. Control the heat so that the pressure remains but don’t use too high a heat. Once the time is up, remove the pan from the heat, leave to cool slightly (about 5 minutes), then carefully release all the steam before removing the lid.
Meanwhile, cook the pheasant breasts. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a roasting tin with non-stick baking paper. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Season the pheasant breasts with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan, skin-side down, and cook for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the heat. Turn the breasts over and place them in the prepared roasting tin in a single layer. Roast in the oven for about 8 minutes or until cooked and golden brown all over (the cooked meat is best served slightly pink). Remove from the oven and leave to rest (uncovered) in a warm place for 5 minutes.
While the pheasant breasts are resting, cook the cavolo nero in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon the barley and quince mixture onto warm plates, arrange a pheasant leg and one breast on top of each portion, then divide the cavolo nero between the plates and garnish with the toasted seeds. Serve immediately.