Paul Leary explains the art of preparing a pheasant for the pot

Paul Leary demonstrates how to prepare the pheasant for your chosen dish

Removing tail feathers and wings,
Firmly grasp the tail feathers in your hands close to the bird and pull away from the body. Next open the wing and feel for the joint with your thumb and fingers. Place a sharp knife on the joint of the wing and with a sharp movement slice through. Repeat with the opposite wing.

Removing the head,
Cut the head as close to the breast as you can. To do this feel for the end of the breast and the beginning of the neck (this is easier if the bird has just eaten as you can feel the grain in the crop). Slice down and the head will come off.

Removing the feet and sinews.
Score the skin with a sharp knife where the leg bends, bend the leg backward until you hear it snap, then pull away from you firmly and the tendons should come away with the lower leg and foot. Repeat with the other leg.

Removing the skin
Feel for the breast bone and pinch the skin to raise it from the inner flesh. Make a small incision then put your fingers inside the hole, pull to expose the flesh of the breast. Keep working around the bird with your hand between the outer skin and inner flesh until all of the flesh is exposed then pull off of the legs. Finally cut the remaining skin off at the base of the tail.

Gutting the Bird.
Cut the thin band of skin at the base of the bird and push two fingers inside and right to the back of the bird and pull out with one pull.

Pheasant with Apples,Calvados (Serves 2 large - 4 small Portions)

Paul Leary, preparing a pheasant for the pot

1 Pheasant Skinned
6 Thin slices of Pancetta
2 Sage Leaves
1 Bulb Garlic
Rapeseed/Olive Oil
15g plain flour
Sea salt and pepper
50g diced pancetta
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 Parsnip diced
1/2 celeriac diced
6 tbsp Redcurrant Jelly
200ml red wine
Few thyme sprigs
400ml chicken/pheasant stock
Red Cabbage


Knob of butter
50ml Red Wine Vinegar
100g Brown sugar
Pinch of mixed spice
1 Diced Apple

Pheasant Casserole

In a saucepan/casserole pan splash in some rape/olive oil over a medium heat. When hot add the diced vegetables and the onion & fry until you have a little colour on the vegetables.

Add the chopped pheasant leg & diced pancetta, fry for a further minute. Add the flour and stir-in to bind the mixture slightly. Add chicken/pheasant stock & thyme, simmer for 30 minutes. Add 2 tbsp Redcurrant jelly & season with salt & pepper.

Pheasant Breasts

Season lightly with salt & pepper, rub a garlic cove over the breasts then place 1 sage leave on top.
Wrap the breasts with pancetta, then gently fry then for 4 minutes on each side
Place the breasts in a preheated oven (180c Gas 4/5) for ten minutes.

Apple & Calvados Sauce

Once the pheasant is out of the oven set the breasts aside to rest, pour of excess fat from the pan & place on the stove over medium heat.

Add the apple & shallots and fry till soft, deglaze the pan with some calvados brandy, reduce until almost gone then add chicken/pheasant stock. Simmer until slightly thickened then whisk in a knob of butter & pass through a sieve & serve

Red Cabbage

Fry the red cabbage in a little oil then add Red wine vinegar, brown sugar, mixed spice, 4 tbsp of redcurrant jelly and a splash of water/wine or port. Simmer gently until red cabbage is soft and cooked through (25 minutes)

Recipe supplied courtesy of Paul Leary

The Woodhouse