Roast pheasant with bread sauce and baby spinach

An impressive dish from Curtis Stone - pheasant legs slowly braised in garlicky goose fat, with succulent quick-roasted breasts
By Curtis Stone
Roast pheasant with bread sauce and baby spinach
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus overnight marinating
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

Main

  • 2 pheasants
  • sea salt
  • 3-4 sprig thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 400g can goose fat
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the bread sauce:

  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 onion, studded with 4-5 cloves
  • 4 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • knob of butter
  • black pepper

For the spinach:

  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 250 g spinach leaves

Method

1. Remove the legs from the pheasants by severing the joint between the thigh and rib cage.

2. Sprinkle a layer of Maldon sea salt flakes in the base of a dish in which the legs will fit snugly in a single layer. Strew with the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves. Place the legs on top. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge. Wrap the remaining pheasant pieces in cling film and store in the fridge.

3. Preheat the oven to 120°C/gas 1/2.

4. Remove the legs from the salt mixture, reserving the thyme and garlic. Place the legs in a small flameproof casserole. Pour over enough goose fat to cover and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

5. Cover with greaseproof paper and place in the oven. Cook for 3-3 1/2 hours until the legs are fairly tender.

6. Add 2-3 cloves of the reserved garlic and the thyme sprigs to the pan and cook for 30 minutes more.

7. Meanwhile, start the bread sauce. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the clove-studded onion and heat gently. When the milk is almost boiling, remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

8. When the legs are tender, remove them from the pan along with the garlic and thyme sprigs, and set aside.

9. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/gas 6. Remove the reserved pheasant pieces from the fridge.

10. Cut the bread into small dice. Remove the onion from the milk. Add the bread, nutmeg, and butter. Whisk over gentle heat until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

11. Pour the olive oil into an ovenproof frying pan large enough to take the pheasant breast pieces and legs without crowding them. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the two breast pieces and quickly sear on both sides.

12. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes. Remove the breast pieces from the pan and keep warm.

13. Add the legs to the pan and roast for about 10 minutes until browned and crisp. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

14. Add the reserved garlic and thyme, and roast for a few minutes until crisp. Set aside and keep warm.

15. To cook the spinach, melt the butter in a saucepan. Throw in the spinach and stir over medium heat until wilted. Keep warm.

16. Remove the pheasant breasts from the bone. Arrange on a bed of spinach with the legs. Garnish with the garlic and thyme, and serve with the bread sauce.

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