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Pheasant Roasted in Butter Muslin

If you want to roast pheasants that are guaranteed to be moist and tender, then this is the best way I've come across. Do remember, though, to check with your supplier that the pheasants are young enough to roast. Older birds should always be braised or casseroled. One pheasant cooked in this way and served with Cranberry and Onion Confit would make a wonderful Christmas lunch for two people.

 Pheasant Roasted in Butter Muslin

  Serves 4-6

 1 brace pheasants weighing about 1½ lb (700 g) each
 4 oz (110 g) butter
 4 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon
 a few sprigs fresh thyme
 2 bay leaves, snipped into 4 pieces
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the gravy
 a little plain flour
 stock made with the pheasant giblets (see link at the end of the recipe)
 1 level teaspoon redcurrant jelly
 2 tablespoons port or Madeira
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C).
Oven temperatures and Conversions
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You will need 2 pieces of muslin 18 x 18 inches (45 x 45 cm) and some wooden cocktail sticks.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas


Wipe the birds with some kitchen paper and trim off any odd bits of skin that are hanging loose. Then, beginning at the neck cavity of each bird, pinch the skin to loosen it and provide a kind of pocket along each side of the breast. Next insert the pieces of bacon, snipping them in half if you need to, so that what you end up with is breast covered by bacon covered by skin. Now place each bird in the centre of a piece of muslin, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and plaster each pheasant with butter spread thickly all over. Wrap the muslin up like a parcel, bringing the first two opposite edges up, one over the other, then tuck the thyme and bay leaves in and finally fold the other two edges over and secure the parcels at both ends with cocktail sticks.

Now place the birds in a roasting tin on a high shelf in the oven and give them 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), and continue to cook the pheasants for a further hour, basting with the butter from time to time. When a pheasant thigh is pierced with a skewer and the juices run clear it's done. Discard the muslin and leave the birds to rest in a warm place whilst you make a gravy. Spoon off all the excess fat from the roasting tin, and place the tin over a medium heat. Stir in a little flour till smooth, then gradually add enough stock to make a thinnish sauce. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and let the gravy bubble and reduce before stirring in the redcurrant jelly and the port or Madeira. Serve the pheasant with the gravy and Cranberry and Onion Confit handed round separately.


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Related recipes

Cranberry and Onion Confit Serves 8-12

Cranberry and Onion Confit

A confit, as the name suggests, is a kind of sauce reduced to a concentrated, jam-like consistency. This one is a good accompaniment for all kinds of things at Christmas, as it keeps well in the fridge for four weeks.

Goose (Pheasant or Duck) Giblet Stock 

Goose (Pheasant or Duck) Giblet Stock

It is perfectly all right to use duck or pheasant giblets instead of goose giblets in this recipe, although you will only need 1 pint (570 ml) water if you do.




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