The shooting season is with us again, and many of us are looking for good recipes for our game birds. I find roast pheasant, frankly, a little dull and dry and the best recipes for it are usually casseroling or slow cooked. Here’s one that I’ve adapted over the years. It works equally well with partridge but I’m not sure I’d cook grouse in this style although I’ve seen rave reviews about it.
At the start of the season I try and dig around at the bottom of the freezer to clear out last year’s birds ready for the next lot, and this is a good recipe to use up older birds.
- 2 pheasants
- 4 tsps Turmeric
- 4 tsps Ground Cumin
- 3 tsps Ground Coriander
- 2 tbps Garam Masala
- Nutmeg (I grate from a whole one for extra flavour)
- 1 Head of Garlic (peeled)
- 1 Onion
- 2 deseeded (filth!) Chillies
- Juice of one Lemon
- 500ml Natural yoghurt
- Tomato paste
First thing to do is deconstruct the carcasses. Skin the bird (if you have them fresh in the feather you can field dress them in one by holding the wings down with your feet and pulling the legs gently up and away from the ground). Remember to also clean the legs and keep the liver and heart if you are using this method.
My birds were left over from last year, so were already cleaned but needed butchering into smaller pieces. I took the crown and used game shears to halve along the back and breastbone. The legs and wings I cut into by the joints but left the bones on. The rear of the bird doesn’t have much meat on at all and once the legs are removed can be jettisoned.
I scored the flesh on the bone in order to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat better. All the bits I then put in a glass bowl and set about making the marinade.
The base of the tandoori marinade is yoghurt. To this I add the rest of the spices and ingredients to make a paste.
This needs to be blended using a liquidizer to a smooth consistency.
Once done it should resemble what’s left over after an unsuccessful attempt to replicate an Al Jr recipe.
The marinade is then poured over the butchered pheasant carcasses, making sure that the flesh and the marinade are well mixed. Cover with cling film and leave overnight in the fridge so the flavours can infuse the meat.
Preheat your oven to pretty much as high as it will go. Dig around in your cellar and you’ll find an unused clay tandoor cooking pot that a friend gave you for a wedding present. It’s sat next to the two unused fondue sets you also received.
Remember to take out the instructions and put the pheasant and marinade into it and place the lid on. Pop into the oven and cook for about an hour. You can serve the tandoori pheasant with rice but I serve it with a home-made saag aloo and some bought in papadums and naan with lemon slices to add a little extra acidity to the dish.
If you feel like using the tandoor again remember not to use detergent to wash it. Rinse thoroughly with hot water and a scrubbing brush to clean it, detergent seeps into the clay and will taint the flavour of the next dish.
Game tends to be very good lean meat (the older birds to put on a layer of fat as the season progresses but this is easy to cut off) and I’d encourage you all to seek it out in your supermarkets or game dealers.
© text & images Captain Black 2020
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