Pheasant has a stronger flavour than other feathered game so it’s important to pair it with the right ingredients that complement this.
Award-winning James Mackenize does just this in a fantastic recipe that embodies the best of seasonal ingredients. This dish also pairs well with an accompanying mature Pinot Noir.
For the pheasant breasts:
• 4 pheasant breasts
• 50ml of vegetable oil
For the marinade:
• 100ml of rapeseed oil
• 1 tbsp of juniper berries, crushed
• 1 tbsp of thyme, chopped
For the pickled blackberries:
• 200g of blackberries
• 200ml of red wine vinegar
• 150g of caster sugar
• 35ml of water
• 3 star anise
• 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 bay leaf
For the parsnip purée:
• 8 parsnips, sliced
• 200ml of cream
• 100ml of water
For the parkin:
• 100g of parkin, or dark ginger cake
For the brussels sprouts:
• 2 Brussels sprouts
• 1 knob of butter
1 Begin by marinating the pheasant breasts. Mix together the marinade ingredients in a bowl and submerge the breasts in the mixture to coat. Alternatively, add the breasts and marinade ingredients to a ziplock bag, squeeze out the air and seal. Leave overnight in the fridge.
2 To pickle the blackberries, add all of the ingredients (except the blackberries) to a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool, then add the blackberries and leave to pickle for at least 1 hour. Once pickled, remove the blackberries and set aside at room temperature. Decant the liquid into a squeezy bottle.
3 For the parsnip purée, add the sliced parsnips, cream and water to a pan, cover with a lid and cook until the parsnips are soft. Strain, reserving the cream, and add the parsnips to a blender.
4 Add a splash of the cooking liquor to the parsnips and blitz until smooth and silky. Season to taste and set aside.
5 Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
6 To prepare the parkin, crumble the cake into small pieces and spread out onto a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes to dry out slightly.
7 To cook the pheasant, remove the breasts from the marinade. Add the oil to a hot pan and shallow fry the breasts, skin-side down, until golden brown. Once golden, turn over the breasts and place in the oven for 5-6 minutes. Remove and rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking.
8 Thinly slice the sprouts and heat a knob of butter in a small pan until it begins to foam. Add the shredded sprouts and toss to coat. Sauté for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
9 To serve, arrange the sprouts in a line across the middle of each plate. Place the pheasant breasts on top of the sprouts and spoon a quenelle of parsnip purée onto each plate. Decorate with the parkin crumb and add a squeeze of the pickling liquid and a line of blackberries before serving.