Shrinking family leads to pheasant with leek and potato.

Pheasant with LeeksWe are a frugal enough lot. We have always tried to be practical but not at the expense of acceptable comfort. For example, we don’t buy the luxury quilted, balsam infused toilet tissues. Nor do we go with squares of old newspaper hanging from a string. We try to maintain a balance between raw practicality and the better things in life. If one overindulges in such luxuries as quilted toilet tissue, they become the norm and any change in financial circumstances can come as an uncomfortable shock to the system. Having said that, in recent times, we do find ourselves having more meals for two as family spread their wings and abandon us on weekends. The thought of cooking pheasant for six or eight brings a lump to my throat. But, when it’s just the Wife and I dining, it’s game on (pun intended). 

Pheasant can be very dry and uninspiring. I thought of a way to keep it moist, flavoursome and convenient to cook. I will share my Pheasant with Leek and Potato with all you empty nesters out there. Ironic, given that the poor pheasant will never see the nest again. I posted a roast pheasant previously. The link is here, if you’re interested.

Ingredients for two people

  • 1 pheasant
  • 4 leeks
  • 100 grammes or so of bacon lardons
  • 5 or six strips of good quality streaky bacon
  • 2 glasses of dry white wine
  • 8 to 10 juniper berries
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 20 or so mixed peppercorns
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 8 to 10 small, waxy, potatoes

First, fry the bacon lardons in a little oil until browned.

Lovely lardons. It is important to avoid eating them at this stage.

Lovely lardons. It is important to avoid eating them at this stage.

Chop the leeks. They will break down in the cooking so they don’t need to be too fine.

Don't be too delicate with them. They will melt a bit in cooking.

Don’t be too delicate with them. They will melt a bit in cooking.

Thinly slice the garlic. Grind the peppercorns and the juniper berries together.

The juniper berries add a lovely flavour that works so well with the pepper.

The juniper berries add a lovely flavour that works so well with the pepper.

Add the leeks to the bacon. sweat them down over a low to medium heat. When they get soft, add the juniper berries and peppercorns. Stir them in then add the wine.

That seems like a lot of wine to pour away. Trust me, it's worth it.

That seems like a lot of wine to pour away. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Cook this for a few minutes to allow the alcohol evaporate. Slice however many of the potatoes so they are all roughly the same size. Add these to the pot.

The potatoes act as a bed for the pheasant to lie on. The flavours infuse the potatoes.

The potatoes act as a bed for the pheasant to lie on. The flavours infuse the potatoes.

Wrap the pheasant in the bacon and sit it on top of the potatoes.

The bacon will add moisture and flavour. Just the way we want it.

The bacon will add moisture and flavour. Just the way we want it.

Place the lid on the casserole dish and pop it into a 200ºC oven for an hour. Remove the pheasant and put the bacon back in the oven to crisp it up while the pheasant rests for a few minutes.

After an hour of roasting and steaming.

After an hour of roasting and steaming.

Carve the pheasant down either side of the backbone and then separate the breast from the leg. Serve with the leeks, potatoes, some bacon and some of the lovely wine sauce that will have prepared itself in the casserole.

The flavour combinations are excellent. Perhaps we should ban the kids from the house?

The flavour combinations are excellent. Perhaps we should ban the kids from the house?

While I love my family, having fewer people around the dining table certainly has its compensations. We get to try the more exotic without breaking the bank. Perhaps we could go for four layer quilted?

Perhaps not.

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  • That looks like a happy and delicious pheasant 😉

    • Thanks MD. It was pretty tasty. I should have posted it a couple of weeks ago, while they were still in season. Live and learn…

      • I cooked one on Sunday – I’d had it in the freezer for a couple of months. I thought maybe you’d done the same 🙂

        • No MD, I am a bit ahead of myself with posts. In fact, I need to get a few of them out there or I will be posting Christmas stuff in August!

          • Ha ha 🙂

  • Mmm, love pot roast birds. One of my favourite ways of cooking them. All that mingling of flavours must have been delicious.

    • It was very tasty Linda. The pheasant can be very dry and uninteresting. This brought out the flavour and provided a nice bit of contrast of texture and flavour too.

  • Wrapping game animals in bacon is a tried-and-true way of keeping them from going tough and dry 🙂 My favorite wild game author has some amazing looking recipes for pheasant:

    He has excellent recipes and methods for duck, goose, and venison, so even though I haven’t tried any of his pheasant stuff (we don’t hunt pheasant- yet), it would be a fair guess to say they’re good. He typically cooks for two, too, so his recipes are very scalable.

    • Hi Amber,
      For some strange reason, your comment went into spam. Thanks for the link. I’ll check the recipes out and undoubtedly, learn a lot.

      • Guessing it was the link 🙂

  • I’m drooling as always

    • Thanks, I enjoyed cooking this. The bacon helps it a good deal.

  • This sounds great. Do you think it could also work with chicken? Great idea anyway. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes. Though the timing would need adjustment. Good idea. Thanks Cecilia.

  • Great post, Conor. Sounds and looks like a great recipe for pheasant. I expected one of the glasses of wine to end up in the chef 😉

    • If only it was the one glass Stefan. We got that wine from the vineyard while we were in France last year. A very enjoyable drop. The dish was very tasty and I reckon that Cecilia above might be on to a good idea to do something similar with chicken. One can swill the wine with that too!

  • Looks amazing. Makes me want to get all fancy and make a extravagant dinner for two. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joy, you should do it. When there’s a crowd, let the conviviality do the work. If there are only two, go fancy!

  • Life is much easier when you cook for two and you are right the weekly budget does stretch further. Lovely pheasant recipe cooked to perfection.

    • Thanks Maria. Too true. However, with a bigger crowd, they pay less attention to the cooking. That can be a good thing!

  • Why doesn’t mine look, smell, or taste nearly as good? Could it be the addition of juniper berries and wine? They sound like a great flavor additions I must try.
    There are so, so many pheasant on the island lately, unfortunately not season for hunting them. But they aren’t the fastest to react and my dog has nabbed a few. A friend told me just yesterday her family had just eaten one– killed by their cat. All retrieved before the bird’s skin was punctured. And one flew into my car last week. Not the smartest birds on the island 🙂
    And while I’m storytelling, I must share that some twelve years ago, on my first trip to the island, I killed one with a stone that was about 15 metres away, fortunately, as I had shot my mouth off beforehand about being a sharpshooter during time spent in the Army. That is still one of my proudest moments, stoning the poor pheasant, that is. It was tiny, but Johnny’s father indulged me by cooking it up, and I definitely made a good impression with his family 🙂

    • Excellent story indeed. They are certainly prettier than they are smart.

  • I would love to share this on my facebook page, but sadly, I see no fb share button 🙁

    • The Facebook share is second from the left, down the bottom. It takes a time to load for some reason. But, it’s there.

      • Oh ya! I see it now. Don’t actually know how I missed it, sorry about that.

  • The picture of the bird wrapped in bacon looks lovely. Bacon always helps gamey meat so much better! There are only two of us, at the moment, as we have yet to receive the blessing of children and meals like this make me very happy. 🙂 Who doesn’t want to blow their budget on fabulous food?!?!

    • Too true. We are at the other end of the spectrum. Children gone or going….

  • If one wants to eat interestingly and well cooking for one initially takes even more thought: don’t particularly like leftovers the next day: I’ve solved my ‘problem’ largely with turning to Asia. Oh that other stuff: my online order usually just states ‘packet of 30 plain white on special’ . . . my body parts have not complained to the best of my knowledge 🙂 !

    • Oriental is excellent for cooking for one or two. The wok was made for small amounts of food. I hear you on the other stuff.

  • Looks absolutely delicious. And splurge on, empty nester!

    • Thanks Michelle. It doesn’t feel like a splurge. Though, it probably looks that way.

  • I was wondering about the two portions of bacon until I saw you had the pheasant wrapped in it! Everything can be better with bacon, right? Very lovely dinner, Conor!

    • Bacon wrapping seems to improve things all right.
      Thanks for the kind words.

  • Never tried pheasant. The vegetarian wife has an issue with it and other small fluffy poultry-type items. Chickens and turkeys are okay though. As for bog roll. I would happily plumb for the newspaper on a string variety but the other day treated said wife to quilted perfumed stuff. £6 for 9 rolls. Now there’s value for you, right there.

    • That is almost a € a roll. And, if it’s thick and quilted there are less sheets to a roll (no matter how you spell sheets).

  • This looks stunning! I adore pheasant, potatoes, Leeds and bacon. Sounds like the perfect meal for me. Luckily there’s just me and the boyfriend so no need to worry about having to share with other people x

    • It looks like you have the right idea Jessica Jayne. It really is easy to do if you can get the pheasant.

  • You can’t imagine my relief, Conor, when I realised your title wasn’t “Shrinking family results from pheasant with leek and potato”, as I first thought. I’d hate to shrink my family. I’m so much taller than them all already. On somewhat unrelated note, I will definitely be giving this a go.

    • Funny, there is so little fat on the pheasant that one would shrink without the addition of the bacon. If I shrink myself any more, I will disappear. I must exercise less and eat more.

      • It is funny Conor, because one could say that my problem is the exact opposite. Naked pheasant for the next 8 weeks it is then.

  • Gorgeous – delicious meat. Pheasant is so beautiful with feather and when plucked…

  • Great recipe and great pun work Conor. I love it.

    • Thanks. I feel as if I am struggling a bit with the writing at present. Please praise me for every good little thing. I need it!

  • Beautifully done! I guess I’ve missed a few posts and now feel as if I’m stalking. Where better place to stalk than a pheasant post. I wonder if hats come in pheasantstalker as well as deerstalker varieties….

  • What a beautiful way of roasting a bird! Wrapping in bacon-blanket. Highly inspired to try your method. God bless your brain & soul.

    • Thank you Nusrat, you lovely, lovely person.

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