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Normandy Pheasant Casserole

ingredients

serves 8
4 pheasants, breasts removed
2 onions
3 medium cooking (tart) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bottle white wine
1/4 cup (1 oz) 30 g flour
fruit jelly, such as blackberry, crab apple or redcurrant (optional)
a little Calvados or brandy (optional)

method

1. Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Flatten out the debreasted pheasants as much as you can and place them skin side uppermost in a large roasting tin. Roast in the oven for about 45 - 60 minutes, until the skin is nicely brown. Transfer the pheasants to a large flameproof casserole.

2. Skim the fat from the roasting tin and reserve it, and add the remaining liquid to the casserole. Add the onions, apples, seasoning and wine to the casserole and bring to a full rolling boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3 and cook the pheasants until the leg meat is tender when tested with a knife, about 1-1 1/2 hours or longer if the birds are old. Allow the pheasants to cool.

3. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones in as large pieces as possible and place in a casserole dish. Reduce the juices, onions and apples to a puree in a blender or food processor, then sieve to make sure there are no small bones or shot. There should be about 1 pint (600 ml) of liquid.

4. Put 1 tablespoon of the roasting fat in a pan and blend in the flour. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes, then gradually blend in the pureed cooking liquid and bring to the boil, stirring. Taste and season, adding 1 tablespoon of fruit jelly if the apples were very sharp. Heat through until hot and bubbling. Add a little Calvados to taste, if liked.

5. To serve, pour the sauce over the meat and heat through in the oven.

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