When I made the strange, but rather delicious, Tomatoey, from an old cookbook, it suggested serving it with roast meat.
I always have, in my freezer, some game. Usually despatched by my brother and given to me so I have something ready to roast quickly. On the morning of the day that I was going to make Tomatoey, I rummaged through the freezer and came up with a lovely little pheasant, which I could imagine would be truly delicious served with a rich and gorgeous tomato bread side dish.
Wild game is healthy and generally very low fat – there’s no idling around in a farm, eating processed feed pellets for a wild bird. They eat what is natural and they fly so there is no excess fat on them. That’s good for a full flavoured and low fat meat but it does mean you have to cook them carefully – and by that I mean a quick roast or braise so they don’t dry out… maybe covering their tender little breasts with bacon to protect them and serving them with something that enhances their rich meat.
Roasting a pheasant takes less than half an hour, if you sear the outsides, so that would go well with the timings I was working on for Tomatoey. Things were coming together.
First of all, get your casserole dish hot and add a teaspoonful of oil or so then sear the outsides of the pheasant, turning it round so all of the bird browns.
If you are not using cast iron, then sear the bird in a frying pan… a ceramic casserole dish will break if you put it over a hot hob!
Take the bird out and start on the next step
First, some some lovely onion needs to be chopped and popped into the casserole dish to start cooking
Some dry cure bacon can be chopped into that to make a rich and delicious sauce – but save a couple of bits to cover the breast of the bird when it is in the oven…
And a small bottle of cider will make a lovely gravy… so add some now to help the onion and bacon start to cook.
You will see it makes a lovely golden gravy as everything bubbles away.
Pop the bronzed little pheasant on top of the onion and bacon and cider mix and pour in the rest of the cider.
The remaining bacon can be laid over the top of the bird and all you have to do now is pop it into the oven for half an hour – which was handy because that was where I had the Tomatoey!
You end up with a gloriously tender and fragrant little pheasant… just falling apart..
And the gravy that has been made is both sweet and savoury
Perfect to moisten the little pheasant and extremely delicious to go along with anything else you choose to serve with it.
It is a rather special dish considering it took less than an hour to start, prepare, cook and serve. And half an hour of that it was looking after itself in the oven.
Give it a go, eh?