A Feather in Your Hat: Pheasant Rillettes
It’s Fall – or Autumn – and here in Surrey the leaves have turned a delightful array of colours. We often walk the dogs on the Hampton Estate and in the distance we sometimes hear the pop, pop, pop of the pheasant shoot. Then, on collection days we take advantage of this local produce and bring home a brace or two of these delicious birds, along with some Hampton Herbies sausages and some venison steaks. The deep flavours of game meld nicely with the wild mushrooms we pick and with the late-season root vegetables we roast alongside.
However, I often find that roast pheasant can be a bit dry, so last hunting season I developed my Pheasant Four Ways recipe. Composed of Braised leg of pheasant on a bed of Savoy cabbage, Roulade of pheasant breast with a sage and onion stuffing, Savoy cabbage bundles with a pheasant sausage stuffing and Deep-fried pheasant wings, this recipe ensures moist and flavourful results. It uses Thermomix’s fabulous Varoma steamer to cook and to infuse moisture in two of the components, plus braising which is another moist cooking process.
Adapted for Thermomix from a traditional French recipe, the dish below also ensures that the flavourful pheasant meat is made as moist as possible while retaining its own flavour and melding with the flavours of the seasonings. It derives from a natural way of preserving food by potting, or cooking and covering in fat. Because of this, it’s not a dish to be enjoyed every day but golly, is it good!
Madame Thermomix’s Pheasant Rillettes
Makes about 4 jam jars full
2 pheasants, prepared
750 g dry white wine
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
a bunch of parsley, tied
500 g smoked bacon
500 g unsmoked bacon
1 tbsp ground allspice – added
- In a large pot (OMG cooking on the stove!!!), add all ingredients except the allspice, cover with water and cook 5 hours on low heat. Can be left overnight in a warming drawer, then brought to the boil on the stove/hob to reduce the liquid.
- Let the mixture cool, then pick all the meat from the pheasant bones. Mix in the allspice. Shred meat in batches in the Thermomix for a few seconds/Reverse Blade Function/Speed 1 or 2.
- Put in pots or sterilised jars, cover with the melted fat and cooking liquids left in the pan, and cover with sterilised lids. Add 1000 g water to your Thermomix bowl and sterilise a few jars at a time in the Varoma dish, 20 minutes/Varoma setting/Speed 2.
- Carefully remove jars from the Varoma and make sure the lids are tight – be sure to use a dry tea towel or pot holder/oven glove so you don’t burn yourself! Turn jars upside down on a clean tea towel to cool, then recheck lids are tight. Label and date your jars.
Keeps unopened in the cupboard for about 6 months if properly sealed; once open, eat within three days – if it lasts that long! Serve on homemade (Thermomix!) rustic bread or toast, accompanied by pickled gherkins and silverskin onions.
Bon appétit !