PHEASANT:- Fresh pheasant makes a perfect choice for a small festive gathering as one pheasant will generously serve two people. Most supermarkets sell oven ready pheasants, over the Christmas season, which have sufficient flavour for most tastes. If, however, you prefer a more gamey taste, you might prefer to order them from a good butcher or poulterer who sell hung pheasants as these have a stronger flavour. Traditionally, pheasant is served with game chips (thinly sliced and deep fried potatoes)
2 oven-ready pheasants
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
2-3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
500 g (1 lb) red cabbage
15g (½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
45 g (1½ oz) pistachio nuts
5 teaspoons redcurrant jelly
½ teaspoons cornflour
5 tablespoons port
150 ml (¼ pint) chicken stock
Bunches of fresh herbs, to garnish
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F/ Gas 6). Rinse and dry pheasants and remove any stray feathers. Lay 3 rashers of bacon over each and place in a roasting tin. Halve 1 onion and tuck half inside each bird with the bay leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
2 Roast the pheasants for 1 hour basting frequently during cooking. Meanwhile, shred the cabbage, discarding core. Slice remaining onions.
3 About 20 minutes before pheasants are cooked, melt butter with the olive oil in a saucepan. Add cabbage, onions and pistachio nuts and cook gently for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened but retaining some texture.
4 Stir 3 teaspoons of the redcurrant jelly into the cabbage and stir until melted. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
5 Transfer pheasants to a warmed serving dish and keep warm. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat layer, retaining juices. Stir cornflour into juices, then blend in port, remaining 2 teaspoons redcurrant jelly and the stock.
6 Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, until thickened. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour into a warmed sauceboat or jug. Garnish pheasant with fresh herbs and serve with the red cabbage and gravy.