I’m a big believer in eating game wherever possible, as opposed to industrially produced meat. Truly wild game such as rabbit, some venison and pigeon seems to me the most ethical way to eat meat. OK, it’s not always widely available in central London, but as many of us head to the countryside to be with our families this Christmas, go and have a chat with your local butcher and see what he recommends.
And furthermore it’s extremely cheap! Because of low demand from us consumers, gamekeepers struggle to get rid of pheasants and partridge, meaning a lot of it goes to waste (yet another reason to eat it - winner winner pheasant dinner)!
Game birds tend to be tougher than other poultry – roaming wild and free all their lives means they’ve built up more muscle.
In this recipe, the pheasant is poached, shredded and seasoned making it tender and tasty.
Serves 4-5 people
Mini tacos –buy them online or buy corn tortilla wraps and cut into small circles
2 plucked and prepared whole pheasants
1 white onion
1 stick celery
2-3 red chillis (depending on strength)
Chipotle chilli flakes
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp brown sugar
1 red onion
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
150ml sour cream
1 bunch coriander
Maldon sea salt
Wash, dry and season your pheasants making sure any stray feathers are out.
Roughly chop an onion, a stick of celery and a red chilli and bring them to boil in a large saucepan of chicken stock. Gently submerge the pheasants into the boiling stock.
Let them simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. If you have a meat probe, it should read around 70c. They will continue to cook in the water with the lid on and heat off, so when you are satisfied they’re cooked, take out and leave to cool.
When the pheasants are cool, pull the meat off the breasts and legs with your hands, discarding the skin and bones (for stock if you want).
Make a quick marinade for the pulled pheasant out of lime juice, brown sugar, chipotle flakes, sea salt and a glug of olive oil. Make sure it’s well coated and as spicy as you want it.
If you have mini tacos, you can simply warm them up.
If you’re cutting circles out of tortillas, it’s possible to deep-fry them, or simply warm them. Alternatively you can crisp them up into shells by warming them gently, coating them in oil and baking them folded between the grates of an oven rack. Or if you’re feeling reeeally adventurous, you can make your own with masa harina flour!
Assembling the tacos is the fun part! You can pretty much go crazy with toppings. I like to make a quick guacamole with avocado, finely chopped red onion and cherry tomatoes, coriander and chilli and slather on lots of sour cream and maybe pomegranate. Sweetcorn, mango and feta also work really well with avocado and the spicy citrusy pheasant.