I fancied something a little different for a special dinner the other day so when I came across some pheasant thighs at the market I snapped them up, with no idea what I would do with them. I wanted something tasty & comforting, so I was pretty happy when I pulled this little number together to make a lovely celebratory winter dinner!!
See note at the bottom on lemon verbena.
ingredients (serves 4)
8 stuffed pheasant thighs
200g leek verbena puree
600g creamy mash
500g red cabbage in quince jelly sauce
300ml quince & cider reduction
for the stuffed pheasant thighs
8 pheasant thighs (skinned & boned)
180g mushroom stuffing (recipe here)
Put a heavy gauge baking tray in the oven and turn it up to 240C.
Lay a sheet of clingfilm on the table, and a slice or two of pancetta on top.
Place a pheasant thigh on top of that and add a little stuffing.
Lift the cling film from the edge nearest you to roll the thigh and stuffing to wrap them in pancetta.
Place the meaty package to one side and repeat until they’re all done.
Take the baking tray out of the oven and place them onto it.
They should sizzle when they touch the tray.
Put them straight back in the oven for 8 minutes. Then take them out and leave to rest for 4 minutes.
They dry out if they’re in too long!
for the leek verbena puree (makes ~500g)
500g leek (cleaned & diced)
1 onion (diced)
50g olive oil
100g dry white wine
1/2 lemon (juice)
3g lemon verbena (4g on the stalk)
25g butter (cubes)
Cook the leek and onion with the olive oil on a medium heat.
Keep the lid on, and cook them until they are soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Remove the lid and add the wine and lemon and reduce until the liquid had gone.
Pick was and finely chop the lemon verbena and add it and the butter cubes.
Using stick blender blend until smooth.
for the red cabbage in quince jelly sauce w/ beetroot (makes ~500g)
500g (1/2) red cabbage (coarsely shredded)
1 large beetroot (medium dice - 1/2 to 1cm)
8 juniper berries (crushed)
2 tbsp quince jelly
25ml sherry vinegar
Prep the ingredients, and add them all except the cabbage to a saucepan.
Stirring until the jelly is dissolved and the whole mix has come to the boil.
Set to a gentle simmer and cook with the lid on for about 15minutes, then add the cabbage.
Cook for a further 15-20mins untli the cabbage is soft. (to taste)
Drain off the liquor, add a knob of butter and season if it needs it.
for the quince & cider reduction
liquid from the cooked cabbage
touch of lemon
weigh 1/3 weight butter
The liquor from the cabbage should have a syrupy consistency. Reduce it until it does if not!
Zero a small pan on a set of scales and weigh the sauce.
Weigh a third the weight of butter and cut into small cubes.
Just before serving, bring the sauce to the boil and add the butter string constantly until it’s completely dissolved and the sauce is rich and glossy.
Place a ring old off centre on each plate and fill with cabbage, pipe on the mash potato, then the lemon verbena. Slice the pheasant thighs into halves and place 4 halves inside each cabbage ring. Garnish each plate with lemon verbena. Lift the rings just before serving and serve with some sauce on the side. Don’t forget a nice red wine to go with it!!
One thing that worked particularly well with this dish was the lemon verbena puree. I’d not really used lemon verbena before so when I came across some in that garden I thought I’d give it a test run! It’s quite fragrant and has a lovely flavour with a decent amount of punch! Definitely worth a go if you can find it! (Garden centre!)