Last weekend, I popped to Oval Farmers’ Market on my way home from the centre of London. I had completely forgotten about this market, so when I had the brain wave to pop there on my way home, I got really excited (brain-wave spurred on by the lack of interesting food in M&S in Waterloo station). At the very least I intended to pick up some good quality organic free-range eggs, as you can often buy ‘ugly’ eggs at farmers market’s for bargain prices. Ugly eggs are those not pretty enough, or consistent in shape to make it into a widely commercial egg box. I picked up a dozen eggs for just £2, which considering they were organic, free range, and freshly laid by a hen that morning, is pretty amazing value. Anyway, eggs in tow, I had a wander round the market, tried (and succeeded thankfully) to avoid all the cake samples and fresh coffee (I’m 2 months clean!). I stalled a little passing a meat stall, taking the opportunity to scan my eyes over all the fresh produce. I zoned in on a pack of pheasant legs, probably because a huge 1kg pack was a mere £3.50. Wow! Can you imagine buying 1kg of free-range organic chicken legs for £3.50? In stalling a little, I had the attention of the stall holder, who confirmed my thoughts that this was incredible value, and when I said ‘ what on earth do I do with pheasant legs’ the words, casserole, stew and apple, were offered by another passer by. Anyway, after a few moments of dithering I decided what the heck, I love stews and made the purchase. What’s the worse that could happen? The stall was run by Godmersham Game, which is based in Kent (South East England).
I’ve spent the days since Saturday scouring for a decent recipe, disappointingly most involve slow cooking the meat for a long time, as this helps to avoid the meat getting too tough, but tell me who has 5 hours to wait when they get in from work? However there seemed to be plenty of other recipes about, which involved hob cooking, then stewing in the oven for a mere hour, and here’s my version.
The vegetables and herbs that went into the stew, were chosen simply because they were available from my local fruit and veg shop. I chose fresh rosemary and coriander seed to flavour the dish as I thought they would compliment the seasonal veg. All this veg cost me £3.80, and with 5 meals made, who says that good quality healthy food has to be pricey. After this experience I would definitely experiment with more wild game. According to my Abel and Cole Cookbook Easy, Seasonal, Organic “comparing free-range chicken and wild pheasant is like comparing permission for a sleepover with an all-night rave”. So err that’s pretty good then!
Ingredients (serves 4-5)
- Olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 white onion
- 2 large leeks, finely sliced
- 10 pheasant legs (approx 1kg with bones)
- 8 small carrots
- 100g white button mushrooms
- 1 green savoy cabbage
- 500mls vegetable stock
- a good dose of fresh rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon of whole coriander seed
- Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C
- In a large saucepan, sauté the garlic, onions and leeks in a glug of olive oil, until softened.
- Meanwhile brown the pheasant legs in olive oil in a separate large skillet. This should take about 5 minutes.
- When the onion/leek mix is soft, add the carrots, mushrooms, and finely shredded cabbage, followed by the stock. bring to the boil.
- Add the pheasant legs into the large saucepan mix, and stir so the legs are nestled in amongst the veg.
- Add in the rosemary, coriander seed and season.
- Cover the saucepan with tin foil, and transfer to the oven for 1 hour, stirring half way.
- Serve up into large bowls, and top with fresh rosemary, additional black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.
By no means is this the definitive way to cook pheasant stew, but this was my attempt, my version which turned out pretty well I think. The meat was tender, a little like chicken actually, and the cabbage was melt in your mouth. What’s more I hope I’ve proved you don’t have to be posh or own a wax jacket to cook this stuff (the total opposite of me 🙂 )14