This deliciously tender pheasant makes a great little festive centrepiece – though we would happily eat it any day. Teamed up with on of our favourite sides, it’s an example of how a beautiful Christmas feast can come together with minimal effort.
FOR THE MARINADE
250ml dry cider
1 orange peel and juice
2 fresh thyme sprigs, strip leaves
Salt and pepper
FOR THE PHEASANT
1 small pheasant, oven-ready
25ml rapeseed oil
20g unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE CIDER MARINADE
In a small jug, mix the cider, roughly chopped orange peels, orange juice, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Place the pheasant in a medium-sized bowl and pour the marinade over. Cover and leave to marinate in refrigerator overnight.
FOR THE PHEASANT
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Take the cider-marinated pheasant out of the refrigerator 30mins before cooking and let it come up to room temperature.
Heat the rapeseed oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat until it starts to foam. Lay the pheasant in the pan, and seal the pheasant until golden-brown in colour (about 3 minutes on each side). Place the pheasant and cooking juices along with any remaining marinade into a roasting tin, season and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.
To check the pheasant is correctly cooked, you can use a meat thermometer – the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 59ºC. If you don’t have a thermometer – pierce with a fork, juices should run just clear (the meat will finish cooking as the bird rests).
When cooked, set the pheasant aside in a warm place, cover and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
Sieve the cooking liquor into a saucepan and place over a high heat – simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by one-third (add a little more cider if lacking in liquid). Taste and season if necessary. Strain and reserve in a warmed jug.
To serve, carve the pheasant and serve with cider sauce and Balsamic-Roasted Brussel sprouts.
Don’t toss out the pheasant carcass, it makes a delicious broth.
FOR THE BALSAMIC-ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS
Spruce-up your sprouts with this deliciously intense and heady, balsamic recipe. Rich and deep in flavour, these brussels are a far cry from watery cabbage balls we reluctantly push around our plate!
Roasted to intensify their sweet, earthy flavour, this is a seasonal side that will get all your guests talking!
We love using Liberty’s Apple Balsamic Vinegar – made using the traditional Italian method of reduction and concentration, this balsamic comes from British apples grown in Dorset and Somerset orchards. A process that takes 6 years, this British balsamic has an intense apple flavour that is both sweet and sharp.
700g Brussel sprouts
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Wash the sprouts, remove the root and any damaged outside leaves, and cut overly large sprouts in half.
Place in a baking tray along with the other ingredients ensure all the sprouts are fully coated.
Roast at 180C/Gas 4 for 25 – 30 minutes, turing the sprouts part way through. Remove from the oven when tender and slightly caramelised. Top with toasted seeds as an optional extra.
Balsamic-Roasted Brussel Sprouts recipe by Helen Upshall