Braised pheasant casserole with cider, smoked bacon, and apples is a proper old-school classic that is the perfect intro to cooking this game bird.
With both oven & slow cooker instructions, this recipe is the perfect way to change up that Sunday lunch.
Braised Pheasant in the Slow Cooker or Oven
Pheasants can be challenging old birds to cook for even the most experienced of cooks.
The nature of wild meat means that you never really know the age or the conditions that the bird experienced. Both of which have a huge influence on how the meat cooks.
For that reason braising the meat on the bone in a pheasant casserole is my favourite way to cook it.
The flavours in this dish seem really familiar to any Brit, many of them appear in my sausage and apple casserole.
But this is actually a recipe influenced by North West France. A region famed for its cider, wild meat, and bacon!
It is a glorious way of cooking and feels special.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to look for when buying a pheasant?
Conventional wisdom is to buy a pheasant whole with feet and head so that you can ascertain the quality of what you are looking at.
This is not necessarily helpful to most folk who have no desire to deal with all of “that”.
Your best bet is to find a butcher or game dealer that you trust.
You want something that has been hung for 2-3 days, this will help maximise flavour but also the tenderness of the meat.
You also want to look “in season” so that would be between October and the end of February with a few regional derivations.
What cider to Use?
Remember if you are American, to use a hard cider, so booze rather than pressed apples.
Other than that, go for something dry that you are happy to drink. Your choice will help define the flavour of this pheasant recipe so make sure it is a favourite.
Does the type of apple used really matter?
For me yes, you want a tart apple with a firm texture.
This will help it keep some texture whilst slow cooking and not add to much sweetness to the braised pheasant gravy. This makes the Granny Smith apple perfect.
This pheasant casserole in a cider sauce is all about comfort food and that to me means mash.
If you wanted to look a little further afield how about this carrot and swede mash?
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- Oven or Slow Cooker, use a smaller slow cooker that is around 3 litres in capacity.
- 24cm or 10″ cooking pot or Dutch oven if you are cooking in the oven.
- 30cm or 12″ frying pan or skillet.
- Kitchen knife.
- Chopping board.
- Vegetable peeler.
- Apple corer.
- Fine mesh sieve.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
This braised pheasant casserole is influenced by the cuisine of North West France and sees a whole bird broken down and slowly cooked in cider with bacon and apples. Features both oven and slow cooker instructions.
- 1 Jointed Pheasant (Around 2lbs or 900g)
- 125g (4.5oz) Bacon Lardons
- 1 Medium Carrot (Around 125g)
- 1 Medium Onion (Around 150g)
- 1 Large Stick Celery (Around 60-70g)
- 330ml (11oz Bottle) Cider (Hard cider for American visitors)
- 250ml (1 Cup) Chicken Stock
- 8 Juniper Berries
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Granny Smith Apple
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp Flour
- 50g (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Softened Butter
- Cut the bacon into 5-7mm (¼") dice if it is a single piece.
- Cut the pheasant into legs and breasts.
- Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan or skillet over a medium high heat and when hot add the oil.
- Season the pheasant joints with salt and pepper, around half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper.
- Sear the jointed meat on all sides until golden brown and transfer to either a 24cm or 10" cooking pot or a slow cooker (around 3 litres in capacity) adding the legs beneath the breast joints.
- Add the bacon to the pan and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat to render out some fat.
- Add the bacon to the pot with the pheasant making sure that you only add half of the fat.
- Peel, core and dice the apple into a 1.5cm (½") cube and add it to the pot.
- Cut the onion in half and remove the "furry" part of the root.
- Chop the celery into 1.5cm (½") lengths.
- Return the pan to a medium high heat and add the carrot, celery, and onion, the onion should be added cut side down.
- Cook the vegetables until they start to colour up and then add them to the pheasant and bacon.
- Drain the fat from the pan and return to a high heat and pour in the cider and scrape to deglaze the pan.
- Pour the cider into the pot and add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and juniper berries.
- Add a lid and cook in the oven at 170°C or 340°F for 45 minutes to an hour or in a slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours.
- Strain the cooking juices into the frying pan we used earlier and reduce them by 20%.
- Meanwhile fish out the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and juniper berries and discard returning the apple and bacon to the pan.
- Add the pheasant to the apple and bacon mix
- Mash together the butter and flour and whisk it a little at a time into the reduced sauce until you get to a thickness that you like.
- Pour the sauce back over the remaining ingredients and mix to coat before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 973Total Fat: 60gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 1794mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 8gSugar: 30gProtein: 51g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.