Sunday, 10 April 2011

Salmis of pheasant with truffle

I think my neighbours and postman might think I'm slightly strange over autumn when the porch is often decorated with hanging duck, pheasant, partridge and on one occasion a brace of woodcock. I am lucky enough to be given occasional game over the shooting season. It needs to hang for a week or so depending on the temperature, and also needs plucking, which I am getting better at. It is time consuming and messy, but it is lovely to have interesting, local food that you definitely couldn’t pick up in the supermarket.

This was the last pheasant in the freezer and so it deserved a fitting end I felt. The Little Idiot gave me a book called 'The French Menu' for Christmas. It was written in 1970 by Richard Olney from his little house in the hills of Provence. It is divided into menus according to the seasons, menus that have eight courses in some instances, and are really interesting. This is from the section called 'Two Formal Autumn Dinners'. It is not Autumn nor a formal dinner, but never mind that there was still a pheasant to eat...

It is a pretty serious recipe, serious cooking... but I like a challenge and so decided to give it a go. A Salmis, by definition, is a French dish most often game, roasted, sliced then reheated in sauce. For interest if I had cooked the whole menu that Olney advises we would have been having Sorrel Soup, followed by Fritto Misto, then the Salmis of Pheasant, a Wild Mushroom a la Bordelaise, a Rocket Salad with Nasturtium Flowers, Cheeses and finally Orange Jelly. I honestly think that would take about three days of solid cooking, but it sounds amazing...

Start with the veloute, a traditional French sauce. Melt 1 tbsp of salted butter in a heavy saucepan. Be warned at this stage you will use every pan in the house for this, and more... Add 1 tbsp of plain flour to the melted butter and cook it gently, stirring regularly. Take it off the heat and start to add 480ml of stock very slowly. I used the stock I'd poached the chicken in for the Chicken, bacon and caper pie, which is quite organised for me, it was even labelled in the freezer...

Stir the whole time as you slowly add the stock, to stop it from lumping. Then simmer it over a low heat for about half an hour. Skim the top of it now and again if it starts to form an oily top. At the same time boil 240ml of dry white wine with a tablespoon of chopped shallots and five crushed white peppercorns. Boil it down on a high heat until there are only a few spoonfuls of liquid left.

At this point you need a truffle. They are generally expensive and difficult to get in your average supermarket. I had brought one home for TLI as a present from a holiday in Mallorca. It didn't cost a lot and I got it in the airport. I should have perhaps put two and two together at that point... We have been looking forward to it since then but hadn’t had a recipe worthy of it until now.

Open the truffle and add its preserving juice to the veloute. It was at this point that I realised that our truffle tasted of absolutely nothing... I'm not sure if it was left for too long or if it never tasted of anything in the first place, or if it indeed was actually a truffle? Nothing to do but carry on however. I improvised by slicing up the non truffle and dousing it in truffle oil until it was needed...

Sprinkle the pheasant with salt inside and out, wrap it in streaky bacon and tie it up with string to keep it all together. Roast it in a very hot oven for 25 minutes in a pan that is a snug fit. When you take it out keep all the juices in the pan for the next stage. Cut away the bacon and discard, you will see that it has kept the pheasant nice and juicy inside.

Next you need to joint the pheasant into pieces. Cut off each of the legs with a sharp knife, remove any skin and keep it separately, also keep any scraps of meat or bone. Cut the body of the pheasant into two pieces down the middle of the breast bone. Take the breast bone out, and cut each half into two length ways, remove all skin. Tidy up all of the pheasant pieces and put them into a serving dish that can go into a low oven to keep warm. Before you put them in slice the truffle over the top and grind some black pepper over. Also sprinkle over a tablespoon of cognac that you have set on fire to get rid of the alcohol. Cover this all with foil and put it into the warm oven.

Next you need to finish the sauce. Pour the fat off the top of the juices from the roasted pheasant dish. Put what is left on a high heat and add a couple of tablespoons of white white, stir it and scrape up all the bits from the pan. Chop up all the skin and scraps from the jointed pheasant and pound any bits of bone in a pestle and mortar. Add this and the roasting juices to the veloute and boil everything for 8 to 10 minutes. Pass it all through a sieve, pressing the meat and bone firmly to get all the juices through. Bring the sieved sauce back to a boil and simmer for another ten minutes with the heat on one side of the saucepan, it needs to reduce by about one third. This is much more serious cooking than I usually take on, I found the sauce quite daunting.

Finally pass through a fine sieve again, reheat, check for seasoning and swirl in 2 tbsp of unsalted butter cut into small pieces. Pour the sauce over the warm pheasant and serve straight away.

I served it with some black pudding, made by Stewart and co. in Jesmond, that was cooked in a frying pan for 5 minutes, removed and some spring cabbage wilted in the same pan. Add the black pudding back in and pour over a whisked dressing of Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil, crème fraiche and parsley...

It is quite time consuming and a bit exhausting but extremely tasty. I'd love to try it with a real truffle one day but will probably have to wait until next autumn and when I win the lottery...


  1. this looks delicious! I'd like the recipe for the mustard black pudding with creme fraiche and cabbage!

  2. J'aime vraiment votre article. J'ai essaye de trouver de nombreux en ligne et trouver le v?tre pour être la meilleure de toutes.

    Mon francais n'est pas tres bon, je suis de l'Allemagne.

    Mon blog:
    rachat credit maison puis Rachat de credit de


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x