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    Roast pheasant with bread sauce, game chips and juniper gravy

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    Roast pheasant with bread sauce, game chips and juniper gravy

    • Preparation time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus brining, resting and infusing
    • Cooking time: 20 minutes

    Serves: 8


    120g fine salt

    60g caster sugar

    12 juniper berries

    4 whole, oven-ready pheasant

    2 tbsp vegetable oil

    20g pack thyme

    120g unsalted butter, softened

    200ml red wine

    300ml ruby red port

    500ml fresh chicken stock

    1 tbsp redcurrant jelly



    1 medium floury potato (about 200g) peeled and sliced 0.2cm thick

    100ml white wine vinegar

    vegetable oil, for deep frying



    500ml whole milk

    1 large onion, halved

    4 bay leaves

    6 whole cloves

    2 blades mace

    1 tsp salt

    150g day-old white bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes

    50g unsalted butter

    grating fresh nutmeg


    1. Gently heat the salt, sugar and 6 juniper berries with 200ml water until just dissolved, then add 1.8 litres cold water. Put the birds in your largest bowl or pan. Pour the cool brine over them; make sure they’re covered and weigh them down with a large plate, if needed (or use 2 bowls). Cover and chill for 3 hours.

    2. For the game chips, rinse the potato slices in 4 changes of water. Place in a bowl with the vinegar and cover with cold water ready to fry – leave for at least 30 minutes (soak up to 4 hours ahead). Heat a deep-fat fryer or fillalargesaucepan1/3 fullwiththeoiland heat to 150 ̊C (a cube of bread should turn golden in 90 seconds). Dry the potatoes well on kitchen paper, then fry, in batches, for 10-12 minutes, until golden and crisp. Drain, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and leave to cool in a sieve. Set aside; they’ll stay crisp for a few days in an airtight container.

    3. Preheat the oven to 200 ̊C, gas mark 6. Remove the pheasants from the brine 30 minutes before you plan to cook and pat dry well on kitchen paper. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium- high heat, season the birds and coat with the vegetable oil. Cook in the hot pan, in batches if needed, turning often, for about 20 minutes, until golden. Focus on the legs – you don’t want to dry out the breasts.

    4. Put the birds on a baking tray. Divide the thyme into 4 bunches and put a knob of butter on the end of each, then put inside the pheasants. Spread the remaining butter over the breasts; roast for 18-20 minutes, until just cooked through. Baste the birds, then rest, breast-side down under a loose sheet of foil, for 20 minutes. 5. Discard any excess fat from the frying pan, then set over a high heat. Add the wine, port and remaining 6 juniper berries; boil to reduce by 1⁄2. Add the stock, reduce by 1⁄2, and season. Stir in the redcurrant jelly; keep warm.

    6. Meanwhile, make the bread sauce. In a small pan, bring the milk to the boil with the onion, bay leaves, cloves, mace and salt; take off the heat, cover, and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Strain into a clean pan (discard the solids) with the bread and simmer gently, stirring until you have a rough- textured sauce; season and keep warm. Before serving, add the butter, a little nutmeg and a splash of milk to loosen, if needed.

    7. Serve the pheasants on a large platter, with the accompaniments and some steamed veg, if liked.

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