Pot-Roast of Pheasant with Shallots and Caramelised Apples
This is a superb way to cook pheasants and would make an excellent alternative Christmas lunch for four people. The pheasants are first browned and flamed in Calvados (apple brandy) and then are slowly braised in cider. If you don't have any Calvados, you could use brandy or omit altogether. When the pheasant season comes to an end in mid-February, this works just as well with guinea fowl.
This recipe is from Delia Smith's Winter Collection Serves 4-6
Start off by heating the butter and oil together in a heavy frying pan, then brown the pheasants in the hot fat until they're a good golden colour all over. Then place them, breasts uppermost, in the casserole and season them well. Then brown the shallots in the remaining fat in the frying pan and add these to the pheasants, along with the thyme and bay leaf.
Next pour the Calvados into a small saucepan and warm it gently, then ignite with a match. While it is alight, pour the flaming Calvados all over the pheasants. The alcohol will burn off, leaving just the beautiful essence to flavour the birds. Now pour in the cider and bring everything up to a very gentle simmer, put a tight lid on the let the pheasants braise slowly on top of the stove for 1-11/4 hours or until they're tender.
Towards the end of the cooking time, pre-heat the grill to its highest setting.
Line the grill pan with foil and brush it with melted butter. Then brush each piece of apple with melted butter and dip it in sugar to coat it well all over. Place these on the foil and grill them about 2 inches (5 cm) away from the element for 6 minutes, or until the sugar caramelises. Then turn them over and caramelise them on the other side. When they're done they will keep warm without coming to any harm.
When the pheasants are cooked, remove them and the shallots to a warmed serving plate and keep warm. Discard the herbs, then boil the liquid in the casserole briskly without a lid until it has reduced slightly. Then whisk in the flour and butter paste with a balloon whisk, which will slighly thicken it when it comes back to the boil.
Carve the pheasant and serve with the shallots and sauce poured over and garnished with the caramelised apples.