Ballotine of pheasant
- Preparation and cooking time
- A challenge
- Serves 4 - 6
- 2 oven-ready pheasants
- 25g soft butter
- 12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
For the stuffing
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 2 tsp butter
- 50g prune , soaked in 3 tbsp brandy
- 400g sausagemeat , from 6 whole sausages
- 2 tbsp thyme leaves
- large handful parsley , roughly chopped
- 25g pistachio
- 25g fresh breadcrumb
- STEP 1
First, make the stuffing. Fry the onion in the butter for 5-10 mins until softened, then leave to cool completely. Thoroughly mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, including the cooled onions.
- STEP 2
If the wings are attached, cut at the first joint (on most butchered birds they will have been removed). Find the wishbone between the neck and the breast, then use a sharp knife to scrape away the flesh around it. Gently pull it out, trying to keep it as one, cut it away and discard.
- STEP 3
Place the pheasant, breast side down, on the board. Using a sharp boning knife, see tip, left, cut through the skin to the backbone along the length of the bird.
- STEP 4
Working down the length of the pheasant, slowly run your knife down against the ribcage, keeping close to the bone and scraping the flesh away from both. Twist out the thigh joints when you get to them.
- STEP 5
Very carefully cut away the main carcass. This is where the skin is at its thinnest, so cut carefully as you don’t want to nip or pierce the skin.
- STEP 6
Open the bird out like a book and lay it, skin-side down, on the board.
- STEP 7
Season the bird’s flesh with salt and pepper then arrange half of the stuffing down the middle of each of the birds in a sausage shape.
- STEP 8
Re-form the bird by lifting the sides up and around the stuffing. After you’ve done one, repeat with the other pheasant.
- STEP 9
Wrap each pheasant tightly and neatly with bacon so that the bacon goes all the way round the bird and joins on the underside.
- STEP 10
Using butcher’s string, tie the pheasant at regular intervals around the width. Then tie it once around the length to hold the stuffing in.
- STEP 11
Finally, tie the legs together. The pheasant can be prepared to this stage and chilled up to a day ahead.
- STEP 12
Heat oven to 200C/ 180C/gas 6. Transfer the pheasant to a roasting tin. Roast for 45-50 mins, basting regularly with the juices from the tin. Finally, cover with foil and rest for about 15 mins. Serve in thick slices with the juices from the pan.