Most game is delicious on its own. Nothing is added by smothering or drowning it in sauces or strong flavours. Classics are classic for a reason. Bacon, juniper berries, onion, leeks, cabbage and even sauerkraut seem to work best with most game.
Roast Pheasant with Cabbage and Turkey Bacon
Pheasant is still hunted with good results. If you are not likely to head into the woods, process and “hang” one yourself, and most are not, find yourself a reputable butcher that keeps a variety of game in stock. Free range birds are an excellent choice and much less work. Be prepared game birds in the USA unlike in most countries is a bit expensive and therefore a treat, but we all deserve treats. Pheasants have a surprising amount of meat. A 4-5 pound/1.8-2.2kg bird will easily serve 4-6 people.
1 onion cut into quarters
1 stalk celery cut into quarters
2 carrots sliced in half vertically and horizontally
1 4-5 pound/1.8-2.2kg pheasant
1 tablespoon/15ml YaDa Maya Natural Sea Salt (divided)
1/2 tablespoon/7ml fresh ground black pepper (divided)
2 knobs butter
1/4 teaspoons/1ml dried tarragon
1 bunch of parsley
6 pieces of turkey bacon, cut into quarters
1 medium sized head white cabbage (sub savoy)
2 ounces/1/4 cup/60ml red pepper jelly
1/2 cup/125ml stock, or dry white wine
Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C/Gas 5
Place the cut vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan. Dry the pheasant inside and pat outside dry. Season the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Place one knob of butter in the cavity. Add the thyme and parsley to the cavity. Rub the 2nd knob of butter over the entire bird , then season with remaining salt and pepper. Drape the bacon pieces over the bird covering as much of the breast, wings and thighs as possible. You can tie it with string if you wish, but it is not necessary. Place the bird on one side using the vegetables to balance it. Cut the cabbage roughly into bite sized pieces. Surround the bird with the cut cabbage. Place the roasting pan carefully in the oven making sure not to knock over the bird. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn it on its other side and roast for 15 more minutes. Turn the bird breast side up and brush with red pepper jelly on the breast and sides. Pour the wine into the pan. Return the pan to the oven, roasting for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing the thigh near the leg joint. Juices should run a pale pink and leg should move freely. If they juices run clear--your bird is over cooked and will be dry. Thighs should register 165F/74C.
Remove the bird to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes to redistribute the juices. Place Cabbage on a serving platter. Remove the vegetables to a mouli/food mill and push them through, mixing with the pan drippings or put into a food processor with the juices and whiz until smooth. This is your gravy.