Friday, 12 November 2010
One of the compensations for the cold and dark of autumn is the food (the other is cashmere). As much as I love the fruit and vegetables, the barbecued meat and chilled desserts of summer, I can't help but think that winter food is a lot more interesting. Rich, gelatinous meat, earthy pulses, softly melting cheese and sweet root vegetables give a lot of scope for a cook when the wind is cold.
Remind me I said this come February when I am sick to the back teeth of cabbage, OK?
One of the big features of British autumn produce are the game meats that come into season. In the last couple of years the supermarkets have taken them on board and have started to produce some more user-friendly, convenient cuts, which will hopefully broaden the appeal of these lean, tasty meats.
Now, I don't go to the supermarket very often (love my internet grocery shopping), but the other day I did have an errand to run, so had a bit of a poke around the butchery aisle while I was there. And I spied a packet of skinned pheasant thigh fillets.
By the time I got home I knew I wanted to make a pheasant saltimbocca with them. I thought I was being SO original and SO clever, but then I had a look at t'internet and discovered that one of Alex's Masterchef final dishes was a pheasant saltimbocca. I missed the final, but I must have read about it somewhere.
Anyway - here's my recipe.
Pheasant Saltimbocca (serves 2)
8 skinned pheasant thigh fillets
4 fresh sage leaves
4 large/8 small slices of proscuitto
Freshly ground black pepper
knob of butter
splash of olive oil
bigger splash of dry sherry (I would have preferred dry marsala but it's hard to come by)
Place 2 pheasant thigh fillets, slightly overlapping, between sheets of cling film and give them a bit of a whack with a rolling pin to make them a more even thickness and stick them together (you could do each one individually, but I wanted a higher ratio of pheasant to proscuitto in each bite). Place a sage leaf on the combined, bigger pheasant thigh, and season with black pepper. Wrap in a slice of proscuitto, 2 if they aren't big enough to enclose it. You could stick it together with a toothpick if you think it is insecure, but mine held together without.
Repeat with the remaining pheasant, sage and proscuitto.
Dust each parcel lightly with flour.
Heat a large saute pan and add the butter and oil. When the butter foams, add the pheasant parcels. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side; the proscuitto should be crisping but you don't want to overcook the pheasant. Pour the sherry in, swirl around for a second and then remove the pheasant. Scrape up any crispy bits into the sherry while it reduces a bit and then pour it over the pheasant.
I served it with a warm roast butternut, spinach and puy lentil salad, but mash would be good too.