Pheasant is one game bird that most of us recognise and has always been popular on the dinner table. The Romans are considered responsible for the spread of pheasants in western Europe. When Julius Caesar invaded England in the 1st century BC, the pheasant followed. By the early 19th century they had become the most important game bird in the UK and in December 1913 King George V shot over a thousand pheasants out of a total bag of 3937 over a six day period, a total which still stands as the British record bag.
Now the shooting season is over for another year your freezer probably contains a number of game birds. Instead of leaving the birds in the freezer why not cook them. With this in mind I have developed a recipe you may like to prepare using your pheasant on these colder evenings.
Pheasant and Spinach Curry
6 tbsps sunflower oil
6 pheasant breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
10 Cardamom pods
2 Bay leaves
1 tbsp ground Coriander
2 tbsps ground Cumin
2 tbsps mild Paprika
2 tbsps Turmeric
1 Cinnamon stick
1 good handful freshly chopped Coriander
200ml Coconut milk
3 good handfuls of fresh Spinach
2 tbsps Garam Masala
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan and brown the pheasant for a few minutes. Add the onions, ginger and garlic with the remaining oil and cook until the onions are soft. Now add the cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves, ground coriander, cumin, paprika and turmeric and cook on a medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the water, add the cinnamon stick and fresh coriander and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and add the spinach. Replace the lid and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the garam masala and replace the lid again. Leave for 5 minutes. Just before serving stir in the garam masala, check the seasoning and remove the cinnamon stick. Serve with boiled Basmati rice with a little saffron added if required.
Curry and spicy foods can be difficult to pair wine with. The art of pairing wine with food is to find a wine or a dish which is subservient to the other. With curry and spicy dishes the spices are the most dominant ingredient. Therefore the wine needs to work in harmony with the spices and support as well as enhance their flavours rather than the other way around.
This harmony can be achieved with Sparkling Wine, Champagne or a Bordeaux Moelleux (Semi-Sweet still white wine) and I have a few recommendations below:
Champagne Morel Brut Reserve (£26.05)
A fantastic gold medal winning Champagne that is produced in Les Riceys in the heart of the La Côte des Bars.
A well balanced Champagne that is full of finesse, combining richness with elegance. This is an aromatic Champagne with notes of dried apricot, white flowers, toasted brioche and delicate hints of red berries, citrus and spice.
Crémant Brut d’Alsace – Jean Baptiste Adam (£12.49)
Produced in the Alsace village of Ammerschwihr which lies in the Kaefferkopf Grand Cru vineyard by the House of Jean Baptiste Adam (founded in 1614).
This is a highly aromatic sparkling wine with expressive fruity notes of apricot and pear and has hints of lime blossom, spice and brioche.
Comte de Laube (£8.50)
Sparkling Wine made from grapes grown in the South West of France and the vineyards of the Loire Valley.
With subtle notes of lemon, toasted almonds, greengage, apple and broom blossom this Sparkling Wine has a certain panache. On the palate, it reveals slight floral touches and the finish is pleasantly and very slightly fruity.
Chateau de Rondailh 2011 (£9.99)
Le Rondailh is a Bordeaux Moelleux – a semi-sweet white wine which we don’t often see feted outside France. These types of wines are quite exceptional – slightly sweet, rounded and supple with mouth quenching acidity and superb balance.
This wine is very expressive in the mouth – vibrant and lively with flavours of pear, peach, melon and lemon and delicate notes of hazelnut and crystallized pineapple. The sensation of sweetness is ethereal and light.