Being a good country girl (rolling in the haystacks aside…), I am very partial to British game in all forms. A particular favourite is pheasant. It is versatile bird with a distinct flavour, which is absolutely ideal for roasting, casseroles and curries. I know many people might be intimidated by the idea of cooking a pheasant, but it is really is a very simple process.

As a rule, one roast pheasant feeds two people, you can obviously feed more people off one if you make a curry, but usually people just prefer the breast as legs and wings have little or no meat on & can be very gamey (they are very lazy birds & would rather run than fly).  It can be a bit of a nightmare trying to find a willing soul to pluck the damn thing; but you can also buy pheasants plucked, gutted & “oven –ready” from many country butchers.

Start by toasting two pieces of bread, and lie them in the bottom of a roasting tray. As a pheasant does not have much juice, there is never enough at the end to make gravy. However, if you put the bird on toast, once it starts the cook, the toast acts like a sponge in the oven, soaking up all the goodness as it is roasts, which is positively delicious at the end. Put two pieces of bacon on top of the breast to stop the moisture evaporating through the skin and slide into the oven, about 200 degrees for about 40-50 mins depending on size of bird (obviously the bigger the phezzie, the longer it needs to cook for)

Heat a knob of butter in a small pan. Roughly chop a red onion and add to the butter, coating completely. As the onion starts to sauté, add a small handful of dark brown (Demerara) sugar and stir. This caramelizes the onions and gives the sauce a good depth. As the onions are frying, add a splash of red wine, hot water, a little crumb of a stock cube and some balsamic vinegar, just to take the edge off the sweet sauce.

Prepare some mash potato, and some vegetable to accompany the bird. When you take the pheasant out of the oven, make an incision down the leg just to check if it is cooked. Like a chicken, the juices should run clear and should be a light pinky brown when cooked. Too red and it is undercooked and can become very dry if overcooked.

Get a nice strong boy/girl to carve it for you (carving skills really will be put into action here) and don’t forget some of that delicious juice-soaked toast!