Pheasant braised with port and celery
This comes from Toby Gritten and Jake Platt, who are chefs at the relaxed Albion Public House and Dining Rooms in Clifton, Bristol (0117 973 3522; www.thealbionclifton.co.uk). It's great for low-stress autumn dinner parties, as well as late suppers.
Pheasants are just back in season and while a whole bottle of port might seem a little extravagant, you can pick up a bottle from the supermarket or off-licence for a fiver. Port adds a heady flavour to the copious juices, and even if you want to double the quantities, there's no need to increase the amount of port, or the stock, thyme and cream.
Serve with lots of mashed potato (made ahead and reheated) and watercress. (Serves four)
# 1 tbsp olive oil
# 1 pheasant, jointed into eight (get the butcher to do this)
# 2 tbsp flour
# 1 bottle of port
# 1 three-quarter pints/1litre chicken stock
# 4oz/100g pancetta or streaky bacon, diced
# 2 large shallots, finely sliced
# 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
# 1 small bunch of thyme, leaves only
# 1 head of celery, cut into matchsticks
# 1lb/450g chestnuts, peeled (optional)
# 5floz/150ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 130C/250F/gas mark 4. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Dust the pheasant pieces with flour, and cook on both sides until well-browned - you may need to do this in two or three batches.
Put the pheasant to one side and pour the port into the hot pan, stirring and scraping the base. Bring to the boil and reduce the port by a third, then add the stock and reduce again by a third. You should have nearly 2 pints/1 litre of liquid left.
In a separate pan, fry the pancetta until it releases its fat, then add the shallots, garlic, thyme and celery. Cook until soft then add to the casserole dish, along with the pheasant pieces.
Place in the oven and braise uncovered for just over one hour. Take out the pheasant and heat the liquid on top of the stove until it has reduced by half, then return the pheasant to the pan and cool.
To re-heat, add the chestnuts and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream (you may not need it all: add it a bit at a time, tasting as you go) and check the seasoning before serving.