Smothered pheasant with apples, prunes & the best braised red cabbage

Smothered pheasant with apples, prunes & the best braised red cabbage

By
From
Lagom
Serves
4
Photographer
Yuki Sugiura

Pheasants can seem a bit intimidating to cook if you are not familiar with game birds – they don’t exactly look appealing and the threat of overcooking and ending up with dry meat looms large. This recipe could really not be simpler. Spatchcocking the pheasants is a breezy process and makes cooking quick and even. The smothering here refers to the buttery massage they receive before cooking which also stops them drying out. This is a wonderfully wintery recipe to impress (with very little effort on your part). The cabbage is based on my mother’s recipe – a Christmas favourite.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g prunes, stoned
2 pheasants
50g butter
1 small bunch thyme, leaves picked, plus a few sprigs
1 lemon, zested
3 small cooking apples, quartered
2 onions, cut into wedges

For the red cabbage

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon butter
1 onion, sliced
1 head red cabbage, finely sliced
4-5 tart apples, cored and sliced into half moons
6 cloves
4 black peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
150ml red wine

Method

  1. Cover the prunes with water in a small bowl and set aside while you prepare the cabbage.
  2. Melt the butter in your largest saucepan and fry the onion for 5 minutes without colouring. Add the cabbage, apples, spices, vinegar, honey and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Stir well, clamp on a lid and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes, stirring and checking every so often. Add the redcurrant jelly and red wine and cook for a further 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft and almost jammy.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Spatchcock the pheasants by cutting out the backbone with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors. Flatten the bird out with your hands so you hear a “crack”. Mix the butter with the thyme, lemon zest and plenty of seasoning.
  4. Place the pheasants in a large roasting tray and scatter the apples, onion, a few thyme sprigs and the drained prunes around the birds. Massage the pheasants with the butter so they are well coated and then season. Roast for 30–40 minutes, basting at least twice, until golden.
  5. Serve with the roasted apples, onions and prunes, as well as the red cabbage.
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