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Pheasant stew with chestnut dumplings
main courses | serves 4
Grouse and partridge may be the king and queen of gamebirds, but in a stew they’re no match for the humble pheasant. With bacon, herbs and nice booze, pheasant is simply delicious; add a few chestnut dumplings and it’s out of this world.
1. Cut the legs off the pheasants and chop in half at the knee. Cut off the breasts and wings in one piece, then chop in half. You’ll have 16 pheasant pieces in total. Reserve the carcass. In a bowl, mix a few tablespoons of flour with a few pinches of salt and black pepper, and toss in the pheasant pieces to coat. Leave for a while so the flour sticks to the skin.
2. To make pheasant stock, chop the carcasses in half and put them in a saucepan with a third of the veg. Add water to cover, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 1 hour, skimming off any floating bits. Pass through a fine sieve and reserve.
3. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the floured pheasant pieces and bacon, then brown slowly on all sides, adding more butter as required. Add the remaining vegetables and bay leaves, and cook until soft and fragrant. Pour over the madeira and top up with stock to just cover the meat. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, adding stock if the liquid reduces.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. To make the chestnut dumplings, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, crumbling in the chestnuts. Mix with your fingertips until the the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, and just enough cold water to bind everything. Dust your hands with flour and roll into about 25 brussels sprout-sized balls.
5. Pour the stew into an ovenproof pot. Drop in the dumplings, poking them under the surface of the stew. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes until the dumplings are fluffy and have soaked up the liquid. Serve with braised red cabbage.
Recipe Pete Begg
Photo William Meppem
from Issue 1
• 2 pheasants
• Plain flour, for coating pheasant joints, plus 50g for the dumplings
• 3 small red onions, peeled and chopped
• 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery heart, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
• 1 tbsp butter
• 200g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
• 6 fresh bay leaves
• 300ml madeira
• 50g chestnut flour
• 50g suet
• A pinch baking powder
• 25g ready-cooked chestnuts
• Braised red cabbage, to serve