I can confirm I am not a pheasant plucker, neither am I a pheasant plucker’s son (or daughter)! Thanks to the wonderful folk at Keelham Hall Farm Shop, they did all of the plucking and gutting for me! However, once again I indulged myself with some light butchery!
For the Delia’s Christmas events we held for Dinner at the Manor, we really wanted to serve warming, hearty, gamey dishes. Rich delights that would get our guests’ tastebuds tingling!
As our starter, we opted for a pheasant terrine – rich with the flavours of wine, juniper and mace, this dish is not for the faint hearted!
Also, for anyone who has never made a terrine, I have to say that Delia has come up with an easy peasy recipe that would make a fine starter at christmas, or would also be perfect on the buffet on Boxing Day!
We served this on watercress and an onion and cranberry confit and a glass of Leventhorpe Vineyard Madeleine Angevine which further enhanced the spiciness.
Pheasant Terrine (Serves 10-12)
Adapted from Delia’s Christmas
1 oven-ready pheasant – look for a nice plump one
350g lean minced pork
450g belly pork
225g chicken livers minced
275 g unsmoked lean bacon, finely chopped
½ tsp mace
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
15 juniper berries, crushed
150ml dry white wine
25 ml brandy
1 tsp salt
Start by de-boning the pheasant, I followed Delia’s instructions by spatchcocking the bird, removing the wings / legs, removing the breasts from the bone by running a knife down them and then removing the meat from the legs. Sounds complicated, but all you need is a sharp (and I mean sharp!) filleting knife and you’re all set. Cut the larger pieces of meat into small pieces, and make sure to discard any skin, sinew or lead shots!
To make the terrine, add all of the other ingredients except for the liquids, into a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped – you need not want a smooth, insipid texture! tip this mix into a large bowl and then mix in the pheasant meat thoroughly and add the wine and brandy and mix thoroughly again. Cover this aromatic meaty mix with some cling film and leave in the fridge, preferably overnight for the flavours to mingle and infuse.
To cook the terrine, pre-heat the oven to 150C. Stir everything in the bowl again, then press the mixture into a terrine / loaf tin and place it in a high sided roasting tin half filled with hot water. Bake for about 1¾-2 hours – by the time it has cooked it will have shrunk quite a bit from the sides of the tin.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool without draining off any of the juices because when cold the surrounding fat will help to keep the terrine moist, even though you won’t actually eat any of it. Cover the tin with a couple of layers of tin foil whilst still warm and then keep it weighted down (ideally a brick or something of similar shape!) in the fridge as it cools. Placing something heavy on the terrine will ensure it is not crumbly and it will slice nicely.
Are you game enough to make this?!