Posts Tagged ‘roast’

Game for an alternative bird?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

If you are looking for a last-minute festive alternative to the traditional turkey or goose, this recipe is easy to prepare, yet never fails to impress. Pheasant is available from good quality butchers all over the country between November and February. In order to prepare for this recipe, ask your butcher to wrap the pheasant with streaky bacon and truss it for you.

Although pheasant is a game bird, young pheasant does not have a strong gamey flavour. As with a lot of fowl, slow cooking yields the best flavour -but be careful not to overcook it, as it tends to dry out. The bacon ensures the bird retains moisture during the cooking process, as it has very little fat content of its own.

Fresh chestnuts are a wonderful seasonal accompaniment to the dish.

Pot roast pheasant with chestnut stuffing, serves four

1 pheasant
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 shallots (finely chopped)
100g (4oz) mushrooms (cleaned and finely chopped)
100g (4oz) goose fat 500 ml of good quality chicken stock
Quarter tablespoon dried mixed herbs
Quarter tablespoon fine sea salt
Freshly milled pepper
3 tablespoons Madeira wine
3 tablespoons cognac
12 chestnuts
6 or 7 streaky rashers


1. First, heat the oil in a pan, add the finely chopped onion and shallots and brown slowly, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat stirring with a wooden spoon all the time. Season with a pinch of salt.
2. Allow the goose fat to soften and place it in a bowl. Add the mushrooms, onions and shallots, salt, mixed herbs, Madeira and cognac, and beat well with a wooden spatula until fully mixed.
3. Peel and place the chestnuts in a pot with a little chicken stock and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes (or until the chestnuts are soft, though still whole). Remove from heat and mix with the mushroom mixture. Stuff the cavity of the pheasant with the mixture.
4. Heat the oven to 150C (gas mark 2). Season the pheasant and the chest cavity, and lay streaky rashers along the top of the bird, ensuring the breasts are fully covered. Truss the bird (if not already done by your butcher) and place in a large casserole dish with a ladleful of chicken stock.
5. Cover the bird and cook in oven, allowing 40 minutes per pound. Turn and baste the bird every 15 minutes during cooking. For the last ten minutes of cooking, remove the casserole lid and turn the heat up to 200C.
6. Remove the pheasant from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes. During this time, make a gravy by placing the casserole dish containing the juices over a medium heat and adding the remaining chicken stock. Bring to the boil and remove from heat. Pass the liquid though a strainer into a clean pot and return to heat. Bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has reduced by three quarters. Whisk in a knob of butter and remove from heat.

Slow down for a tastier Sunday roast

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Sunday is the one day of the week when everyone comes together and we have time to make more of an effort preparing the meal.

A big part of the appeal of cooking a roast on Sunday is that everyone can pitch in – meaning the cook can enjoy the process as much as everyone else.

Lamb is coming to the end of its season (the game season is just around the corner),so take the opportunity over the following weeks to prepare a delicious roast lamb while you still can.

There are two methods of roasting – on a spit and in an oven – with spit roasting being the superior option. This is because the steam produced when roasting in a closed oven reduces the meat’s flavour. Spit roasting provides a drier atmosphere that enables the joint to retain its own particular flavour.

As most of us roast in the oven, I find using a longer period of roasting at a lower temperature yields the best flavour and makes the meat much more tender.

Another way to ensure tender meat is to choose a cut that has been hung for a sufficient period of time. Talk to your butcher a few weeks in advance and ask him to hang your chosen piece of meat for you.

As the meat will lose moisture and therefore, lose weight in the hanging process, it is normal for the butcher to charge you for the weight loss.

Roast leg of lamb

Ingredients (serves eight)
1 leg of lamb
2 bulbs of garlic, separated and peeled
Bunch of rosemary
Rock salt
Freshly milled black pepper
10ml extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots (washed, peeled and roughly chopped)
1 Spanish onion (washed, peeled and roughly chopped)
1 head of celery (washed, peeled and roughly chopped)
1 turnip (washed, peeled and roughly chopped)
2 litres of lamb stock

Pierce the lamb with a knife and get your helpers involved in studding the leg with whole cloves of garlic. Rub olive oil around the joint and sprinkle with rock salt, black pepper and fresh rosemary.

It is important to place the leg of lamb on a trivet or something that will elevate the meat from the tray into which the chopped vegetables are placed.

Rub the base of the tray with olive oil and sprinkle the vegetables onto the tray. Place the leg of lamb on top and place the tray in a warm oven at 110C. Cook for 60 minutes per kilogram. If speedier cooking is required, cook at 170C for 35 minutes per kilogram.

Constant basting is important when cooking lamb – again, put your helpers to work here. For the last 20 minutes of cooking, turn the oven to a higher temperature (180C) until the lamb turns golden brown in colour.

Remove the lamb from the oven and rest for ten minutes before carving.

To make the sauce, drain the excess fat from the tray and keep a little of it aside for the Yorkshire pudding tray (see below). Place in a large pot along with the lamb stock and bring to the boil.

Reduce the liquid to half by simmering, then pass it through a fine sieve and skim any excess fat from the top.

Return the liquid to a pot and bring to the boil. Taste and correct the seasoning. Add the unsalted butter and serve.

Yorkshire pudding
500g plain white flour
7g sea salt
Fresh milled white pepper
1/2 nutmeg grated
4 free range eggs
1l milk
1/2l cream

The day before you plan to eat this dish, sieve the flour into a bowl, then add the seasoning and nutmeg. Make a well and add the eggs, cream and milk and mix well. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

To cook, heat a bun tray and rub with olive oil (the oil can be flavoured by mixing olive oil with a little of the fat left from the cooked lamb tray). Heat the tray by placing in oven at 170C for few minutes.

Remove tray and pour the Yorkshire pudding mixture into the bun moulds. Bake in oven at 170C until golden brown. Remove and serve with lamb, roast potatoes and veg.