Last week I attended the best event at Jamie Oliver HQ, London. One that pressed my buttons for good seasonal food and culinary flair - a pheasant masterclass. Now I've not eaten much pheasant in my lifetime, let alone prepared and cooked it, so I approached the evening with great interest.
Pheasant is in season at the moment and knowing that it's stocked in several of my local butchers I was keen to sample some different ways to cook it. Cue the legendary Gennaro Contaldo, Fifteen London Head Chef Jon Rotheram and Fifteen Cornwall Head Chef Andy Appleton with three very different, eye opening and taste bud tantalizing recipes.
First up, Gennaro spoke about pheasant, his love of the game bird shining through. Opting to serve pheasant breast atop patate arragante, that's sliced potatoes, tomato, oregano onion, basil and a generous splash of white wine baked gratin stylee. Passionately talking us through the recipe step by step I found myself thinking 'yep this is a meal I could enjoy with my own family, young children included'. You can find a recipe for patate arranganto here. Breast wise, he tenderised it and added a sprig of rosemary, a thin slice of chilli and a bashed clove of garlic to each breast, again pressing them down to seal. Gennaro cooked them, herby side down to start in a frying pan over a very high heat, using a ceramic dish to press it down well - if you are old school and have a bacon press, that would be ideal. The key is to have the pan over a very high heat - if heat is too low the pheasant will start to cook which you don't want - you want to seal it.Here's the man in action...
Jon Rotheram had prepared pheasant sausages, with a mix of 60% pheasant to 40% pork, and served the sausage with bread pudding, slow cooked onion, pickled quince, pan fried kale and game chips. Jon explained how he likes to slow roast onions, often popping them in the oven in the morning on a very low heat, no oil just the onions in their skins, before taking them out later in the day. And may I say, without a shadow of a doubt, it was the best sausage I have ever tasted. At this point in the evening I started to realise that my children, Kitty age 5 and Ozzy age 4, would love pheasant. I'm not sure why I have always assumed that it's far too 'gamey' in flavour and thus not suitable for them.
Finally Andy Appleton cooked the most delicious chestnut caponata and roast Cornish squash with pheasant breast cut from a pan fried crown. Andy's dish was really clever, using my all time anti-christ of ingredients in savoury dishes, sultanas and making them taste heavenly. Andy's dish particularly inspired me to experiment a bit more with different ingredients, ad to try and level the flavours up a bit more in the future. Again, I'll be cooking this dish in the next week and reporting back, but in the meantime you can find the recipe for Andy Appletons Chestnut and Squash Caponata over on The Food I Eat.
What I learnt about cooking with pheasant:
The longer you leave a pheasant to 'hang' before eating the stronger the taste.
Pheasant is either best cooked slowly for a long time or quickly.
There's a lot more meat on a pheasant than you might think - one pheasant can feed four, or two very hungry people.
The carcass can be used to make soup (I'll be trying out my own pheasant and chestnut soup recipe later this week, recipe to follow)
Fancy cooking with game? Head over to JamieOliver.com and take a peek at the gorgeous looking game recipes.
Huge thanks to the team at @JamieOliverCom for a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening evening, especially @MerlinJobst, @JamiesEditor and @subisubi. A heads up to check out some lovely bloggers I met whilst there, including The Food I Eat, Tess The 'Yes' Chef , The Cutlery Chronicles, Belleau Kitchen, Adventures in Fussy Eating, Ren Behan, Lisa Eats World and The Very Hungry Londoner and Oliver Denton (apologies to anyone I missed there).
Big respect and love to the lovely chefs @GennaroContaldo, @JonRotheram and @AndyAppleton15 for hanging about to chat afterwards, in particular Gennaro for showing through the photos of his mobile phone or all the wonderful seasonal picking he's been collecting around London over the past few weeks and for not being phased when I did this...
What? I'm allowed at least two fan girl moments a year!
Other posts on the evening that you might enjoy: A Seasonal Pheasant Masterclass at Jamie Oliver HQ by Ren Behan Birds of a feather: pheasant masterclass at jamie oliver HQ by The Cutlery Chronicles Cooking pheasants with the Jamie Oliver team by The Food I Eat A Pheasant Masterclass with the Jamie Oliver Team by The Very Hungry LondonerA Pheasant Masterclass at Jamie Oliver HQ by Lisa Eats World Borough Market Challenge #2 + An Evening With JamieOliver.com: Pan Fried Chilli Rosemary Pheasant Breast with Charred Kale by Rachel Phipps