Pheasant ballotine with sage bread sauce

  • Main
  • medium
  • 2
  • 1 hour 15 minutes, plus overnight marinating and infusing time, then 2 hours to chill the ballotine



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  • 1 pheasant, boned but with the skin left intact (a good butcher can do this for you), bones reserved for sauce
  • 250g of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50g of parsley, leaves picked
  • 50g of sage, leaves picked
  • 50g of thyme, leaves picked
  • rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp of chutney, gooseberry or cranberry work well
  • salt, to taste

Bread sauce

To serve

  • seasonal greens, such as cavolo nero or cabbage, wilted in a little butter or oil
Begin the day before as the pheasant must marinate overnight. You may also want to make a stock from the pheasant bones a day in advance too
Remove the legs and thighs from the pheasant and very finely dice the meat to make the ballotine filling
Next, make a herb paste. Use a pestle and mortar or small blender to grind the garlic, parsley, sage and thyme together, adding a drizzle of oil and the chutney at the end. Season with a pinch of salt
Divide the herb paste in half and blitz one half with the butter to create a herb butter. Place the butter in between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll into a thin sheet, then refrigerate
  • 250g of butter, at room temperature
Divide the remaining herb paste in half again and rub half over the pheasant and stir half through the diced meat. Place both in the fridge to marinate overnight
Begin making the bread sauce the day before, too. Peel the onion and stud it with cloves, then place in a pan with the milk, double cream, nutmeg and sage stalks. Gently bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse overnight
The next day, cut the rolled out sheet of butter into 3, with two larger pieces and one small. Carefully slide one of the larger sheets underneath the skin of the breasts
Place the pheasant skin-side down and season the meat well with salt and pepper, then lay the other larger sheet of butter on top of the meat. Top with the marinated leg meat filling then roll up into a tight log, pulling the skin over to seal. Tie up with butchers string then clingfilm tightly and leave to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours
While the pheasant chills, finish the bread sauce. Remove the onion and sage stalks, then bring the sauce back to the boil. Add the sourdough and sage leaves, cook for a few minutes until well combined, then transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Whisk in the butter, season to taste then either keep warm or reheat before serving
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7
Remove the clingfilm and season the ballotine with salt and pepper. Lay the final, smaller sheet of butter over the ballotine and place a sheet of baking paper on top. Roast in the oven until the core temperature reaches 60°C (about 8-10 minutes)
Remove the baking paper and baste with the melted butter, then return to the oven until the core temperature reaches 64°C (the time this takes will depend on the pheasant, so it's best to use a thermometer)
Leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes before carving. Serve slices of the ballotine on a bed of the bread sauce, with a gravy make from the bones and some simple wilted greens on the side
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