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Pheasant with Cider & Celery Sauce, Roasted Apples and Sippets

Celery is generally a much overlooked vegetable. In recent times celery enjoyed a brief dalliance in the spotlight as a health food, particularly in its juiced form, although most of the claims relating to this vegetable’s health benefits have been debunked. It’s more commonly used as what I call an ‘add on’ ingredient to flavour stews and stocks. Rarely does it get to shine of its own accord.


Subtly flavoured one of the main gustatory advantages of celery is its crisp texture. It was certainly appreciated by earlier generations. Celery sauce was the go to accompaniment for fowl during the 18th century. Its fresh and delicate taste compliments the milder, white fleshed meats such as turkey, guinea fowl or pheasant (providing the latter hasn’t been hung too long) and adds a pleasing contrasting crunch to both flesh and liquour. This version is loosely based on those provided by Hannah Glasse in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple (1747). It’s rather lovely served with roasted apples and sippets (fried bread).


Pheasant with celery sauce, roasted apples and sippets

Ingredients for 2 people

½ tbsp vegetable oil

1 banana shallot, peeled and chopped

2 sticks of celery, washed and chopped

½ x 70g pack pancetta cubes

½ tbsp plain flour

150ml dry cider

100ml water

1 tsp mushroom ketchup

Pinch each ground nutmeg, mace and allspice

2 pheasant breasts, boned and skin off, seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides

Sprig of thyme

50ml double cream

1 tsp flour mixed with 1 tsp soft unsalted butter

½ tbsp chopped parsley (or celery leaves if you have them)


Method
  1. Heat the oil in a shallow pan or lidded frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the shallot, celery and pancetta pieces until they begin to take on some colour.

  2. Add the plain flour and cook for a minute or two before adding the cider, water, mushroom ketchup and spices. Bring to the boil then add the pheasant breasts and thyme. Cover and reduce the heat then simmer, very gently, for 20-30 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly cooked and tender.

  3. Remove the pheasant breasts and keep warm whilst you finish the sauce. Bring the sauce back up to boiling point. Whisk in the butter and flour mixture and simmer until glossy. Just before serving add the cream and parsley or celery leaves. Adjust the seasoning to taste and pour over the pheasant breasts.

Roasted Apples


Ingredients for 2 people

2 small dessert apples or 1 large dessert apple

15g butter

1 tbsp granulated sugar

Good pinch salt and nutmeg


Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Halve the apples and remove the central piece of core.

  2. Melt the butter in an oven proof frying pan. Add the sugar, salt and spices then place the apples, cut side down, in the frying pan. Cook until they are starting to take on a little colour then flip them over and put the pan in the oven (if you don’t have an oven proof pan transfer the apples and basting liquor to a hot roasting tin).

  3. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the apples and bake for a further 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm with the pheasant and celery sauce.

Sippets


Ingredients for 2 people

2 slices of bread (ideally sourdough or from an artisan loaf)

15g dripping, goose fat or lard, melted

Salt and pepper to season


Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃.

  2. Brush the bread slices on both sides with the melted fat then season well with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden. Serve as soon as possible.

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