- 15g dried porcini
- 2 x 800g pheasants, trussed
- 8 slices prosciutto
Prosciutto is a sweet, delicate ham intended to be eaten raw. The word 'prosciutto' is…
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…
- 2 bay leaves
- 30g unsalted butter
- 6 juniper berries, crushed
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 10 small round shallots, peeled and trimmed
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 200ml fino sherry
- 500ml chicken stock
- 300g seedless red grapes
- 150ml double cream
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Soak the dried porcini in 100ml boiling water for 10 mins until softened and then drain, reserving the mushroom stock.
Cover each pheasant in four overlapping slices of prosciutto and tie them each in place with a piece of string. Heat the oil in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet or frying pan over a medium heat. Season the pheasants all over and brown them one at a time in the pan, starting with the breast side for a few mins, and then turning until they are golden all over – this should take about 8 mins. Tuck the bay leaves into their cavities, then put them into one large or two medium-sized flameproof, lidded casseroles.
Keeping the pan on the hob, lower the heat and add the butter. When it has melted, add the juniper berries, thyme and shallots, then season. Fry gently for 5-10 mins, until the shallots are golden brown. Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring for 1 min. Then turn up the heat and pour in the sherry, scraping the bottom of the pan to pick up any crust. Cook for 1-2 mins, stirring, then add the stock and mushroom water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 mins, or until reduced by a third, then pour into the casserole with the pheasants.
Cover the casserole tightly with foil and put the lid on top of the foil. Roast the pheasants in the oven for 20 mins, then uncover the pot and put back in the oven for a further 15-20 mins or until cooked through (a little pinkness is okay). Lift out the pheasants onto a platter, cover with foil and rest them for at least 10 mins.
While the pheasants are resting add the grapes, porcini and cream to the liquor in the casserole and cook over a gentle heat for 10-15 mins (if your casserole is not flameproof, tip the cooking juices into a saucepan instead). While this is cooking, carve the breasts and legs off the birds, put in a roasting tin and cover with foil. Just before serving, return to the oven at 150C/130C fan/gas 2 for 3 mins to heat through. Serve the meat with a generous spoonful of the sauce and the side dishes.