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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.

Ingredients

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)

Method

-
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.
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Share this meat between 4 little dariole moulds, or if you don't have any, into a small deep bowl.
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Pour most of the fat over the rillettes, keeping back a little for sealing the top/s later.
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Put the rillettes in the fridge and when set, share the remaining fat mixture over the top of each mould.
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Return the rillettes to the fridge.
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While the rillettes are setting, soak the sultanas in the Amagnac for 2 hours.
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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.
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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.
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Remove the rillettes from the fridge - so they're not served 'fridge cold'.
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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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