Another gem from Nathalie Hambro. Remember our old friend, Juniper, from the gin post? The woody, aromatic flavours of the juniper berry work beautifully with game. I also like this recipe because it uses a chicken brick- and that is essential if you don't want the pheasant to dry out. As much as I love pheasant, the meat has a worrying habit of drying out, and the chicken brick will stop this happening.
You should be able to get a chicken brick from Habitat. Soak the chicken brick in cold water for about ten minutes. The clay in the brick will absorb the water. When the brick gets hot, the water turns to steam; and with all that moisture floating around, the pheasant will stop getting dry.
Take hold of your plucked pheasant, and wash it thoroughly. Peel a pear, and push it into the cavity of the pheasant. This will also help the pheasant to remain moist. Season the pheasant with salt and pepper. Crush some juniper berries, and rub them all over the pheasant. Saute the prepared bird in a pan with some butter and oil, for about six minutes, so that it is lightly browned all over.
Line the bottom of the chicken brick with tin foil, and put in the pheasant with its juices. Replace the top of the chicken brick, and bake in a preheated oven at 240C for an hour. Now for the juniper butter. Finely chop up some shallots, and some garlic.
Melt some butter in a pan, and add the garlic, shallots, and the crushed juniper berries you've got left over from the pheasant. Simmer for about twenty minutes. Take off the heat, and add the juice of two lemons, some chopped chives, and season with salt and pepper. Serve slices of the cooked pheasant with a small helping of the pear (in effect a stuffing), and the juniper butter sauce.