A warming dish of winter game in a plum and Chinese five-spice sauce is delicious with pak choi and noodles.
- 1tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 2tsp olive oil
- 4 pheasant breasts, rinsed and dried with kitchen paper
- For the sauce
- (makes 400ml/13.5fl oz — only half will be served with this recipe)
- 500g (1lb) plums
- 150ml (¼ pint) dry sherry
- 150ml (¼ pint) vegetable or chicken stock
- 2tbsp clear honey
- Soy sauce, to taste
- To serve
- 200g (7oz) egg noodles
- 4 small pak choi, halved
To make the sauce: Set the oven to gas mark 6 or 200°C. Halve plums, leaving stones in if they don’t come out easily. Put he plums cut-side down in a roasting tin and pour sherry and stock over. Roast for 30 mins.
Mix five-spice powder and oil and rub over pheasant. Heat a frying pan and when hot, fry breasts for a few minutes on each side, then put the pan in the oven (or transfer meat to a hot roasting tin) and cook for 8 mins. Take breasts out of tin, wrap them in foil and rest them for 10 mins.
Tip the plums and juice into a sieve over the pan the pheasant was cooked in and push through to make a purée. Bring to the boil over a high heat, reduce for about 5 mins, then add honey, and plenty of soy sauce, to taste. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to pack instructions, steaming the pak choi on top. Divide between plates, slice pheasant and spoon some sauce over. Serve more sauce on the side.
There’s nothing tastier at the start of the season than young roast pheasant; but an older bird cooked that way could be dry and unappealing. Spot an old pheasant by its long spurs and horny beak and feet. If buying oven-ready birds, you can’t easily check the age, so look out for plump birds. Buy from a reputable butcher or supermarket, and it should be fresh and not too gamey.