Pot-Roast Pheasant Ragu

I relish any opportunity where i can be thrifty, especially with precious ingredients like meat. I suppose it may have been something to do with my upbringing. No food would ever leave my mother’s fridge for the bin unless beautifully blanketed with a hefty inch of mould. Even the most meagre of leftovers would be carefully wrapped in crisp clean foil and get an allocated little spot in the fridge. The question of whether it would actually be eaten never seemed to be a priority, it was just the knowledge of not wasting… Im pretty sure the Christmas Turkey leftovers only managed to break their way out of their tupperware in the fridge only last week.
 Today however was an acception to plentiful leftovers of meat that have been knocking about most people’s fridges over the festive season. I had only one pheasant to feed four and had to come up with a
delicious way to do it. I settled on a slow cooked one-pan ragu, for minimum effort and maximum enjoyment. This is such a restorative dish after a long day, who would want to come home to a bowl. The saucy pot of meaty goodness could be served with soft polenta or pasta. This time I opted for pasta, but it is also great with butter soft parmesan polenta too. Put the polenta in a saucepan on a medium heat add 250g butter, 500ml chicken stock and 250ml of milk  and season with a generous amount of salt and black pepper, stir. Keep the pan over the heat for about 5-10 minutes until the polenta takes on the texture of fluffy mashed potato.
Ingredients

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  • x1 Pheasant
  • 4 rashers of Bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Bay Leaves (or 2 sprigs of thyme)
  • 250ml of Chicken Stock
  • x1 400g tin of Plum Tomatoes
  • 150ml White Wine (Red works too)
  • 2 tbs Tomato Puree
  • 2 tbs Butter
  • Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
  • 350g Spaghetti
  • 25g Parmesan(optional for grating)

Method
 Heat a tbsp of Butter and add the onion, bacon, carrot and garlic to a frying pan and sweat on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes before adding to the bottom of a small casserole dish or large saucepan. Add the pheasant to the pan with another tablespoon of butter and brown the bird all over, in all sides until lightly golden to seal in the moisture. Add the pheasant along with the chicken stock, wine, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and bay leaves to the casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper and cover the dish with a lid. Put the dish on the stove on a high heat, bring to the boil and reduce to it’s lowest heat. Simmer for 2 hours.
Once the pheasant is cooked, set aside to cool before carving the meat off the bone. Pull the meat into thin strands, picking through to remove any little bones, skin and the bay leaves and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. You can leave the meat to rest until it is ready for serving,  if its prepared in advance. Just put the pan back on a medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes to heat through before serving. I would say, like Spag Bol, that ragu is better the day after once the flavours have ‘matured’ together.
If you choose to serve the with with pasta I would recommend you use papardelle. Since it is often hard to come by in the UK just regular spaghetti works too. Just cook your chosen pasta according to packet instruction in plenty of boiling, salted water.
Please be careful when eating Pheasant for any shot, they are wild birds and breaking your teeth may not make not do justice for the eating experience.

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