Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Rosemary Roast Pheasant & Chestnuts

This is properly entitled "big fat roast dinner for lazy, lardy layabouts". At the very least the trimmings deserve more of a mention: rosemary and pancetta wrapped pheasant with roast chestnuts, curly kale and roast potato cubes. That was a bit too long for the title though!

It sounds a bit complicated and lengthy to make but it really isn't, it didn't even take a full hour.

First of all take some pheasant breasts (1-2 per person depending on appetite; I had one, my husband had two) and pat clean with some kitchen roll. Lay a small sprig of rosemary on top of each one and wrap it in a couple of slices of pancetta. Place in a small roasting tray with some oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cover with foil and leave to one side while the oven preheats to 200 degrees C.

Boil up some small potatoes until mostly cooked but still firm in the middle. Drain and cut them into little cubes. Add to another small baking tray that has been lined with greaseproof paper. Drizzle some oil over and season with salt and pepper. If you like (and I do) sprinkle some finely chopped pancetta in as well. Mix until the potato cubes are coated with the oil.

When the oven is hot bung both trays in together and leave be for 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime you can decant your chestnuts * onto a third small baking tray and tear up your kale into a saucepan. If you find any little green caterpillars you could pop them into the garden with a complementary kale dinner of their own, as we did - that was a very narrow escape for a cabbage white butterfly-to-be. If your garden is full of brassicas though you might not - it depends on your take of these things!

After the 15-odd minute roast, remove the foil off the pheasant breasts and pop the chestnuts in on the shelf below. Cook for a further few minutes until the pancetta has crisped up. 

Turn the oven off, but leave the potatoes and chestnuts in there. Put the pheasant breasts onto a warm plate and re-cover with foil, leave to rest while you sort out the gravy and briefly cook the kale, with a sparing amount of hot water, until tender.

To make the gravy just pop the roasting tray the pheasants were in onto a medium heat with a slosh of red wine, a dollop of redcurrant jelly and a small amount of cornflour. Scrape and stir and let it bubble away until it tastes good and has the right consistency.

* You can get pre-cooked and peeled chestnuts from, as far as I'm aware, abel & cole, waitrose and sainsburys. The brands I know are Organico and Gourmet Merchant.

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