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The onset of winter is never high on my list of highlights for the year. The clocks are turned back, daylight disappears by mid-afternoon and summer seems an age a way. This year, rather than gloat on matters I decided to welcome the changing season with open arms and roasted a pheasant. Nothing fancy, some roasted root vegetables, a light game gravy, a bowl of bread sauce and a tomato and thyme jelly made from a glut of ripe plum tomatoes from my polytunnels bumper crop. Washed down with a glass of red, the pheasant proved to be the most memorable meal I had eaten all year.


I suppose much of the pleasure of the meal was a result of forgetting how good a roast pheasant can be and I recalled my earliest childhood memories of my father returning with braces of them after a days shooting on the Lincolnshire Wolds.

I am fortunate enough to see pheasants scurrying through the woodland as I go to work, the brightly coloured plumage and long tail feathers are a glorious sight and a reminder of everything that is wonderful about this time of year in England.

Unlike other game birds the pheasant is relatively cheap to buy, they are easy to rear and can be bought fresh or frozen. Traditionally pheasants are sold in braces (pairs), the hen is smaller than the cock pheasant but the flavour is a little more refined. They need hanging to develop flavour, a pheasant shot in November or December needs a good three days to hang, especially if it is to be plain roasted to maximize its flavour. Always choose a young bird for roasting, leave the older ones for the casserole, especially the legs. A pheasant makes a pleasant alternative to chicken but if it is overcooked the dry, tasteless flesh will put you off ever cooking it again.

How to Cook Pheasant

Content and picture Miles Collins