Pheasant ragu with fennel, chilli and lemon
During the colder months, pheasant ragu is a warmingly wonderful dish. And if following Christmas you find yourself with plenty of leftover turkey, this makes for a nice substitute.
- 2 bulbs fennel, quartered lengthways
- A large glass of white wine
- A generous knob of butter
- 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped
- A bunch of fresh thyme
- 3 bulbs of garlic, crushed
- 1 litre of chicken stock
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 tsp dried chillies
- 1 handful of grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pheasant
- 300g dried pappardelle pasta
- 2 bay leaves
1. Preheat your oven to 140C.
2. Pour the olive oil into a large ovenproof saucepan or casserole over a medium-high heat. Season the pheasant all over, and stuff some of the lemon zest and thyme into the cavity. Fry in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning until evenly golden brown. Transfer to a side plate.
3. Add the fennel, bacon, thyme, remaining lemon zest, bay and garlic cloves to the now empty pan and lightly caramelise for a few minutes.
4. Pour in the wine, and bubble away to reduce by half. Pop the pheasant on top of the vegetables and add the stock. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 2 hours. Baste the bird every so often with the roasting juices.
5. Allow the pheasant to cool slightly, then transfer to a plate and shred the meat off the bones. Strain the cooking liquid and return it to the pan, then bring back to the boil. Allow the sauce to reduce by about half, which will take about 20 minutes. Finely chop the fennel and combine with the bacon and the pheasant. When the sauce has reduced, stir the meat and fennel back in and lower to a gentle heat.
6. Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to the boil. Tip in the pappardelle and cook as instructed.
7. Whilst the pasta is cooking, add the butter, lemon juice, dried chilli flakes and most of the parmesan to the ragu and stir to combine.
8. Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta to the ragu saucepan, tossing well so that every strand is coated. Add a little of the pasta water if the sauce looks dry.
9. Heap the pasta high into bowls and top with the remaining Parmesan.