CATHERINE’S QUICK FIX CHRISTMAS RECIPE of PHEASANT BREAST WITH WILD MUSHROOMS & PARMESAN POLENTA from BBC’s “Best Christmas Food Ever”
- 20 thin pancetta slices
- 4 pheasant breasts, butterflied
- 4 large sprigs rosemary
- 100ml red wine
For the stuffing
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 small stalk celery, finely chopped
- 4 juniper berries, crushed
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp rhubarb ginger jam
- 150g wild mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme
- 3 tbsp port
- 120ml cream
- 1 tbsp butter
- Olive oil
For the parmesan polenta
- 750ml of water
- 1 tsp salt
- 150g polenta, quick cook variety
- 75g butter
- 50g parmesan, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sprigs of rosemary, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5.
To prepare the stuffing, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the spring onion and celery and sauté until softened – this will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the crushed juniper berries, jam and breadcrumbs and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave to cool before stuffing.
To prepare the pheasant, stuff the butterflied breasts and wrap the pancetta around them. Tuck in a rosemary sprig. Heat an ovenproof frying pan with a little oil and brown the pheasant on both sides, this will take 5 minutes. Pour in the red wine and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
To make the mushroom sauce, heat a little oil and butter in a saucepan, add the garlic, thyme and mushrooms and sauté for 6 to 7 minutes before adding the port. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Deglaze the juices from the pheasant and add to the mushroom sauce. Simmer for about 3 minutes before pouring in the cream and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Check the seasoning again.
To prepare the polenta, pour the water and salt into a large heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil. Gradually pour in the polenta, whisking continuously and quickly to ensure the mixture stays smooth and no lumps form. Add in the butter and parmesan. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and creamy and coming away from the pan. (add more water if necessary) Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
To serve, spoon the parmesan polenta onto serving plates, ladle on some of the mushroom sauce. Slice through each pheasant breast at an angle and arrange it over the polenta and sauce. Garnish the top with a sprig of rosemary.