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Pheasant - Breast with Rillettes of its legs & Armagnac Sauce

A delicious way of cooking pheasant as long as your guests realise the breast-meat and sauce are warm/hot and the little tower of rillette cold. It needs planning a day ahead.


For 4 helpings:

2 Pheasants, cocks if possible as they have bigger breasts – leave the wing bones in if possible
1 rounded teaspoon (5ml) Salt
180gr/6 oz Lard
1 clove of Garlic, peeled, but left whole
30gr/1 oz Sultanas
150ml/¼ pint Armagnac
Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper
2 teaspoons (10ml) Vegetable Oil
30mg/1 oz Butter
400ml/¾ pint Pheasant Stock
4 fonds of fresh Dill, to decorate (optional)


Remove the thighs and legs from the pheasant, take out the wishbones, then remove the breasts.
Skin the legs and thighs of their meat - cutting the meat into pieces of equal size - and sprinkle this with the salt and leave, covered, in a bowl in the fridge overnight.
Place the lard and garlic in a small saucepan and melt it over a low heat. Add the pieces of leg and thigh meat and cook very slowly for 4 hours.
Drain the meat from the fat and garlic and set this aside. The meat should fall apart easily - break this up with your fingers into small strands.
Share this meat between 4 little dariole moulds, or if you don't have any, into a small deep bowl.
Pour most of the fat over the rillettes, keeping back a little for sealing the top/s later.
Put the rillettes in the fridge and when set, share the remaining fat mixture over the top of each mould.
Return the rillettes to the fridge.
While the rillettes are setting, soak the sultanas in the Amagnac for 2 hours.
Skin the pheasant breasts and lightly season them with a little salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan anfry the breast gently for 5 minutes on each side - they should still be slightly pink in the middle. Transfer these to a warm place to rest. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Pour off the fat from the pan and add the Armagnac to the pan, deglazing by scraping the bottom to free any caramel from the base. Reduce a little before adding the stock. Reduce this mixture by half, by simmering.
Remove the rillettes from the fridge - so they're not served 'fridge cold'.
Cut each pheasant breast almost in half horizontally, fanning them out a little. Put them in the oven for 2 minutes to re-heat and put one on each plate. Spoon over a little sauce. Turn out the rillettes or cut out little towers with a pastry cutter or very small glass - again putting one on each plate.

To serve, decorate each breast with a sprig of dill - if so desired.

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