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    Roast Pheasant with Quince Cheese, Served with Savoury Breadcrumbs

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    Roast Pheasant with Quince Cheese, Served with Savoury Breadcrumbs

    The pheasant season starts on 1 October. Pheasant is traditionally served with bread sauce and game chips but it's nice to ring the changes. Breadcrumbs are another time-honoured accompaniment and this updated version can be made in advance (store them in a sealed container). If you can't get pheasant, try this with chicken. It works well with partridge, too: use one per person, fill each with 1 tbsp quince cheese, and roast for 25-30 minutes.

    • Preparation time: 30 minutes
    • Cooking time: 45 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes 60 minutes 15 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    • 1 red onion, thickly sliced
    • 3 tbsp quince cheese (membrillo)
    • 2 oven-ready pheasants
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tbsp Marsala
    • 150ml chicken stock
    • 30g butter, softened
    • Savoury Breadcrumbs
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 20g butter
    • 2 shallots, finely chopped
    • 8 tbsp coarse, sourdough breadcrumbs
    • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts or pine nuts
    • 1 tbsp raisins, soaked in boiling water

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6.
    2. Lay the sliced red onion on the bottom of a roasting tin.
    3. Put half the quince cheese inside each pheasant's cavity and season inside. Smear the butter over both birds and season again.
    4. Lay the pheasant on the onions and tuck in the bay leaves.
    5. Roast for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer.
    6. Meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots, breadcrumbs and nuts. Toss together until the breadcrumbs have absorbed all the fat and the mix is crisp and golden - about 5 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. When ready to use, drain the raisins, squeezing out excess moisture, and toss into the breadcrumbs.
    7. When the pheasants are cooked, remove from the oven. Carefully tip each bird so any quince cheese left in the cavities runs out into the pan juices. Transfer the birds to a warmed plate, cover with foil and rest them in a warm place while you make the gravy.
    8. Skim off excess fat from the roasting tin. Remove the bay leaves and onions. Put the tin over a medium heat, pour in the Marsala and stir vigorously to lift all the caramelised bits from the tin. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour into a warmed jug. Carve the pheasants and serve with the breadcrumbs and gravy. Follow with a salad.

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