Roast Pheasant with parsnip and pickled cranberry

Roast Pheasant with parsnip and pickled cranberry

Pheasant, like all game birds, is easily overcooked and has a tendency to become dry. Lightly poaching the birds first helps to keep the meat moist and tender. Just adjust the cooking times according to the size of the bird. In Delahunt, we serve this with a slice of our own white pudding along with some roast parsnip and Brussels sprouts.

Our pudding recipe includes pork belly, pigs’ trotters, onions and pork back fat. You can make an easy alternative at home by mixing some good quality white pudding and sausage meat in a bowl. Add some breadcrumbs, whatever herbs and spices you have to hand and bind with an egg. Wrap the whole lot in tinfoil and bake in the oven for an hour. 

Serves 4


  • 4 reserved pheasant drumsticks
  • 5 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 500ml Madeira
  • 2.5 litres brown chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
  • 200g fresh cranberries
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 100ml cranberry juice
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and finely sliced
  • 200ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 2 litres white chicken stock
  • 2 pheasant crowns, legs and wings removed and reserved for the sauce
  • 50g butter
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • Salt


1 For the pheasant sauce, in a large pot set over a high heat, roast the pheasant drumsticks until well browned. Add the shallot, garlic and mustard seeds. Lower the heat and sweat down for 10 minutes. Add the thyme and Madeira. Turn up the heat and reduce by half. Add the stock, bring to a boil and skim. Lower the heat and simmer for two hours or until the stock has reduced to a sauce-like consistency.

2 Place the cornflour in a cup with the mustard and a little water. Whisk together, then whisk into the sauce. Whisk the crème fraîche in too. Return to the boil and check the consistency. Pass through a sieve and season with a pinch of salt.

3 For the pickled cranberries, place the cranberries in a clean container. Bring the vinegar, juice and sugar to the boil. Pour over the cranberries, place a plate on top to weigh them down. Cool and place in the fridge, preferably overnight but they’ll keep for a month.

4 To make the parsnip purée, place the parsnips and milk in a pot with a little water. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain off the liquid and place the parsnips in a blender. Blitz on full speed, adding a little of the cooking liquid at a time until the purée comes together and is smooth. Finish with the butter. Season with salt and pass through a fine sieve.

5 For the pheasant, place the chicken stock in a large pot and bring to the boil. Add the pheasant crowns, making sure they are submerged, and remove from the heat completely. Leave to poach for 10 minutes. Remove and pat dry. Season with salt.

6 Heat a large pan with a little oil. When hot, add the pheasant crowns and brown all over. Place the pan in a preheated oven at 180oC/gas mark 4 for 6-8 minutes to finish cooking. Remove from the oven and add the butter
and thyme, baste for two minutes. Place on
a chopping board and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

7 When ready to serve, warm the parsnip purée and put a swipe on each plate. Arrange the cranberries around the plate. Remove the breasts from the pheasant and place on top. Finish with the pheasant sauce. Serve with a slice of white pudding, roasted parsnips and some sprouts.

Tip:  If your sauce is too rich, lighten it with a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar

Photography Credit:  Harry Weir