Pheasant with Winter-Spiced Barley
Heat the oven up to 160°C (325ºF), then put a large pan or very heavy roasting tin on the hob over medium to high heat. Add a good knob of butter.
Take the time to thoroughly brown the bird all over, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the barley into a saucepan along with the stock (a ratio of 3:1). Peel the onion, leaving it whole, and attach the bay leaves to the onion with the cloves. Bring it to the boil, then simmer for half an hour.
When you have thoroughly browned the bird all over, remove it from the pan, throw your rustically prepared root vegetables in, and toss them around to coat in oil and juices, then plonk the bird back in the middle.
Put the whole lot in the oven for 30-35 minutes (similar to the barley cooking time. Neat, eh?) and then chill or work out for a bit.
After the half-hour take the pan out of the oven, remove the bird, and set it somewhere warm to rest. I like to brown the vegetables a little more on the hob.
Take the onion out of the barley and discard. Plonk in a good knob of butter and work it in. It will then become creamy and glossy. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.
Now halve or carve the bird by cutting down between the leg and breast with a large knife. Pull out the legs then cut all of the ways through the joint. Then to remove the breasts run your knife along the breast bone to cut the skin and carry on down following the ribs to remove in one piece.
Put a good spoon of the barley onto a plate and grate loads of fresh nutmeg on top. Top with the root vegetables and pheasant.
I love game birds or chicken with roasted potatoes and bread sauce, but that is clearly a carb-on-carb nightmare. So I put the wonderful bread sauce flavors into some braised pearl barley (also known as “risotto-not-risotto”), a better quality source of carbs, with roasted root vegetables on the side.
Here are a couple of helpful hints for preparing your game bird for the oven. Hopefully, you can get your friendly neighborhood butcher to do this, but it is easy enough to do yourself.
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