Wild Pheasant and Foraged Chestnut Stew
Updated: Jun 18
As it is Winter there isn’t many great opportunities to go out and gather wild foods, so I thought I would kick the Wild Food recipes off with some nuts that I had gathered late last year.
So, luckily for me I have had some plump foraged sweet chestnuts sitting in a wooden bowl in my kitchen since late Autumn. The chestnuts were foraged from Danbury woods and have kept perfectly since their collection sharing the bowl with some Walnuts from a mate’s garden.
I was holding onto them as Winter especially January and February are particularly tough on the seasonal cook.. Anyway, my girlfriend told me that the butcher in the market was doing some good deals on Pheasants and as we are coming near to the end of the Pheasant shooting season the butchers are full of them!
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I visited the aforementioned butchers and to my delight I found that the deals were good! Three Pheasants for a tenner!! So I grabbed them along with a great piece of Beef and came home to prepare the birds.
I knew of a great way of cooking Pheasants and combining them with the chestnuts that I had foraged the previous year and here it is! Try and get in quick as the Pheasant season ended on Feb 1st and we will probably only be able to get fresh wild pheasants for the next week or so.
Wild Pheasant and Foraged Chestnut Stew Recipe
2 x Wild Pheasants
Maldon Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Half a cup of Flour
2 x Onions
2 x Celery Sticks
2 x Carrots
2 x Glasses of Red Wine
Good couple of handfuls of Foraged Chestnuts
From the Garden:
Few Bay Leaves
Bunch of Thyme
Sprig of Rosemary
Obviously you can buy chestnuts pre-packed but if you have got some whole chestnuts foraged or not give them a light roasting by cutting small crosses in the top and at 200 degrees heat them for between 10 and twenty minutes (depending on the size of the chestnut). Leave the oven on for the stew and set aside the chestnuts to cool.
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Now, de-joint the pheasants by simply taking the breasts and legs off, try and leave the pheasant meat in four large pieces and don’t worry too much if you have left some meat on the carcass as you can make a lovely game stock with both of the carcasses. In a bowl prepare add your flour, heavily season the flour and the crush eight or so Juniper berries, add these to the flour too! Throw in your Pheasant pieces toss them in the seasoned flour and then brush off any excess.
In a large frying pan, heat some oil and then seal your pheasant pieces. Don’t crowd the pan with to much Pheasant as you want a quick searing heat to lightly brown the jointed pieces. Once all of the Pheasant is browned, set aside.
Meanwhile peel your chestnuts and chop your veggies. Fry the vegetables with (with a little extra oil if you need it) and cook until sweet and soft. Next add your Bay leaves, chopped Thyme and the Sprig of Rosemary, deglaze the pan with the red wine, cook for thirty seconds then add the browned Pheasant pieces and the roasted chestnuts back to the pan. Top up with water until the Pheasant is completely covered and then cover the pan with top with tin foil (being careful not to burn your fingers as I did). If you can find an oven proof lid for the saucepan and put on top of the pan to stop the tin foil rising up. Cook in the oven for 2 hours at two hundred degrees.
Once two hours have passed using tongs remove the now tender Pheasant pieces and place them on a warm plate. Reduce the lovely stock by half and remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprig – check the seasoning of the sauce. Finally place your wild Pheasant pieces to two warm plates (yes I am greedy!) and serve with herby Polenta or creamy mashed Potato!
Lovely! (Watch out for those little pieces of shot though!).
Learn when you can find your own Sweet Chestnuts in our Wild Food Seasonal Guide.