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By Well Seasoned, Dec 14 2018 03:40PM

Well, we're in December and hasn't 2018 flown by? It seems only a few weeks ago we were basking in the heat of a record breaking summer. Now we're scraping the ice off the cars and wondering why we didn't have the boiler serviced back in October.


This is probably the last post before 2019 so a quick thank you to everyone who is still reading the blog and to everyone who has bought a copy of the book. It really is exciting seeing it on bookshop shelves but even more thrilling to hear from people who are cooking from it and taking inspiration from it throughout the year. And to those of you who haven’t yet laid hands on a copy, there’s still time for that last minute Christmas present!


As a family we’re thinking what we should eat this Christmas. There will only be four of us for the big day itself and so turkey isn’t really an option and chicken seems a bit ordinary. We’ve settled on a couple of pheasants, which gives me the perfect opportunity to try one of our December recipes.


Across the British countryside, the familiar croak of pheasants in late summer signals the release of birds into the wild and the imminent start of the game season. Feathered game is one of the most traditionally seasonal elements of the British diet. The very fact that game can only be shot at particular times of the year means it is strictly (and legally) a seasonal treat.


We saw the partridge and duck season begin at the start of September and pheasants join them on the menu from 1 October. Early-season birds can be a little underweight so I usually prefer to wait until they have filled out after a few more weeks of feeding and flying in the field. There is a tongue-in-cheek Victorian saying that reflects the economics of shooting – ‘Up goes a guinea, bang goes sixpence and down comes half a crown.’ Although the currency may have changed, the broad principles remain the same. Shooters, referred to as ‘guns’ will pay considerable sums to shoot pheasant, but the shoot will then sell an entire bird in the feather to a game dealer for well under a pound (sometimes they are simply given away). That means that, even once gutted and plucked, you rarely need to pay more than a fiver for a bird large enough to feed two people (and make a decent stock from the carcass). Prices drop even further midseason as shoots across the country produce a glut of birds, and all of that puts December bang in the middle of great value and taste.


Pot-roasted pheasant with cider and apple


As with most game, pheasant it is very lean, though, and care needs to be taken with the cooking to keep the flesh moist. Most game birds are better cooked a touch pink to keep them from drying out and, whilst the accuracy of the cooking is important, it’s always better to aim for under rather than over. Pot-roasting is a great technique for smallish birds such as pheasant as the meat cooks gently in the steam and is flavoured by the aromatic liquids and the caramelization from the initial sear in a pan. Fat from good streaky bacon also helps and, as with any meat cookery, the final stage of resting is absolutely vital.


Serves 4 as a main course


2 pheasant crowns

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

150ml cider

200ml chicken or pheasant stock

4 slices smoked, streaky bacon, stretched with the back of a knife and cut in half

2 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges

75ml double cream

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 tsp cornflour slaked in 1 tbsp cold water

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.


2. Rub the pheasant skin with 1 tsp of oil and season well. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and very quickly seal the pheasants on the skin side. Remove the pheasants and use the same pan to soften the onions in the remaining oil, adding a pinch of salt.


3. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer. Pour in the cider and reduce completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.


4. Tip the onion mix into a large casserole which will hold the pheasants fairly tightly. Place the sealed pheasants in the casserole, cover the birds with the strips of bacon, scatter the apple around and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Cook in the oven for 25–30 minutes.


5. Remove the pheasant to rest in a warm place. Take off the bacon and crisp under a hot grill. Drain the liquid from the casserole into a pan, add the cream and mustard and place over a high heat to reduce slightly. Thicken with the cornflour, adding gradually as you may not need it all – a thick double-cream consistency is what you are looking for. Adjust the seasoning and add the sauce back to the apple and onion mix.


6. Carve the breasts from the pheasant, checking for shot as you do so. Divide the sauce with the apple and onion between the plates, top with the pheasant and finish with the bacon.


7. Serve with creamy mash and some buttered greens.


By Well Seasoned, Jan 12 2018 03:05PM

Well, after nearly two years of work, Well Seasoned has finally gone to press!


It’s been quite an experience writing our first book and there's been a huge amount of effort from all concerned – starting with us as writers but then designers, editors and proof readers have all been busily involved. We’re really pleased with the end result and, even if we might be a little biased, we’re confident it’s going to be a stunning book.


Right now though, while the presses are rolling, we can afford a short break and what could be better than a cup of tea and slice of toast? The short season for Seville oranges is upon us so, of course, it’s time to make marmalade. Here’s the recipe from our January chapter:


Seville orange marmalade


Crisp toast slathered in salty butter with a good dollop of marmalade makes for a pretty special start to the day. As an alternative, try mixing a tablespoon of marmalade into a small pot of fat-free Greek yoghurt along with a spoonful of oats that have been toasted with a little muscovado sugar. Let the mix sit overnight and enjoy in the morning.


makes around 6 large jars


1.1kg Seville oranges, well washed

2 lemons, well washed

2kg preserving sugar

10g unsalted butter


1. Start by halving and juicing all the fruit, retaining all the pips. Use a teaspoon to scrape the membranes out from the juiced fruit.


2. Cut the skins in half again and slice off some of the white pith if it is really thick. Next, slice the skins into strips of your choice of thickness, depending on whether you want a fine shred or a coarser one. The shreds will swell as they cook to an extent. (I add the lemon skins to the mix, although many recipes call for just the juice and I would have to accept that maybe it isn’t a true Seville orange marmalade.)


3. Measure the juice from the fruit and make up the quantity to 2l with water. Put the juice and shredded peel into a large saucepan. Tie the pips and around a quarter of the membranes in muslin and add this to the pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer very gently until the peel is tender, around 1–1½ hours.


4. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze all the juice out into the pan – if you have a potato ricer it is brilliant for doing this!


5. Warm the sugar in a roasting tin in the oven set to 100˚C for 10 minutes. (This is recommended in many recipes to aid dissolving. I use the oven to sterilize the jars, too.)


6. Add the warm sugar to the pan and stir constantly until it has dissolved, then increase the heat and boil the marmalade rapidly for 5 minutes before starting to check for a set. If using a thermometer it should register 104–105˚C. Or pour a spoonful onto a chilled saucer; when the edge of the pool of marmalade is pushed, the skin should wrinkle.


7. Once a set is achieved, pour the marmalade into the sterilized jars and seal.



By Well Seasoned, Jan 2 2018 09:49AM

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas


2018 is, obviously, an exciting year for us and we're now on the three month countdown to publication day for the book. We've probably got one more final proof read to do before everything is set in stone and the book goes to print.


Until then, assuming you've had enough turkey and sprouts to last a lifetime (or until next Christmas anyway), how about a new recipe from Russell to launch your January? Walter Rose are a traditional butchers in Wiltshire and Russ has long used them to supply top-notch meat and game, both for his restaurant and for our Well Seasoned recipe testing. On their blog this month is a picanha rump cap recipe. Paprika and pickled jalepenos add a bit of welcome warmth to some classic winter ingredients - parsley root, cabbage and apples.


You can find the recipe HERE.


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