Friday, 26 April 2019

Pheasant breast with green grapes, ginger and bok choi

Paul Clerehugh, owner and head chef at the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row and London Street Brasserie in Reading, shares

Paul Clerehugh, owner and head chef at the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row and London Street Brasserie in Reading, shares his recipes with Standard readers.

THE pheasant season runs from October 1 to February 1, and a brace of birds bought from your local butcher is usually quite a bargain. I recommend you casserole the legs and pink pan-fry the breasts. Another tip is to store up a load of thighs in the freezer and do a big pumpkin and pheasant curry for bonfire night.

People always ask whether you should hang pheasants until they drop or whether this is a country myth. Personally, I prefer pheasant “hung” just for a couple of days in a cool place, as I’m not a fan of that really gamey flavour where the birds are hung for weeks.

I’m often also asked about road-kill. People say: “Can we cook it?” and the answer is yes. My top road-kill tips are as follows: the recently deceased is good, and still warm is best. Make sure it’s concussed, not squashed. Remove the head, feet and wingtips, and make an incision through the feather and skin in the breast area. you will be surprised how easily the skin peels off — it’s as easy as unzipping a shell suit.

Thanks to my neighbours John and Joy who gave me the idea for the following simple recipe.

Ingredients

2 small heads of bok choi

4 pheasant breasts

Olive oil for cooking

150ml ginger wine

16 seedless grapes, peeled and cut in half

Knob of butter (about 80g)

Sea salt flakes

Freshly ground white pepper

Method

Cut the bok choi in half lengthways and blanch in boiling water for one minute. Drain and reserve.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan and add a little olive oil. Season the pheasant breasts and then fry them for eight minutes, turning every few minutes. The breasts should still have a pink hue in the middle when cooked. Transfer the pheasant to a warm plate and set aside to rest.

Pan-fry the blanched bok choi in the same unwashed pan for one minute on each side. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Add the ginger wine to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring all the sediment off the pan. Add the grapes. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter to thicken the sauce.

Divide the bok choi among four warmed plates and arrange the pheasant on top. Share the sauce among the plates and serve.

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