Roast Pheasant with Cherries

This recipe is inspired by the fantastic flavours of fresh New Zealand pheasant, complemented perfectly by the zing of balsamic and cherries.

pheasant and cherriesServes 4

  • 2 pheasants, cut in half
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups tawny port
  • 680g jar pitted morello cherries, drained and liquid reserved
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Rinse the pheasant halves and pat them dry with paper towels. Rub them all over with salt and pepper, and place them in a shallow ceramic dish.

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, onion, garlic, bay leaves, port, the cherry liquid (should be about 1 1/4 cups), mixed spice and cloves. Pour this marinade over the pheasant, and leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, turning and basting at least 2-3 times.

Preheat the oven to 160 (c). Transfer the pheasants and marinade from the ceramic dish to a metal roasting dish for better heat. Mix together the hot chicken stock and brown sugar, and pour this over the pheasants.

Cover the roasting dish with tin foil and place in the oven for about an hour. Then take the cover off and turn the oven down to 150 (c) and cook for another 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set the pheasants aside to rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, make a sauce by thickening the pan juices. Either start with butter and a bit of flour and make a roux, and gradually add pan juices until you get to the right consistency, or just heat a cup or two of the juices and stir in 1 Tbsp of cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 Tbsp water. Either way, add about 1 cup of the cherries from the jar. Adjust seasoning with brown sugar (or add more pan juices if it’s too sweet).

Place a pheasant half on each plate and spoon the sauce over them. Serve with crushed roast potatoes, steamed baby carrots and minted broad bean mash (or your choice of seasonal vegetables).