Spatchcock Pheasant with Harissa

spatchcock pheasant

spatchcock pheasant

January 27th, 2013

Having eaten a large amount of roast pheasant recently, down to the fact that they are currently cheap and quite delicious, I thought I’d try something different with this one.

To spatchcock a bird, put it breast downwards on a chopping board and push down on it hard with the flat of your hand to flatten and break the breast bone. Remove the back bone with a pair of heavy duty kitchen scissors, squash the bird out as flat as possible and poke two skewers through it crisscrossed to maintain the flatness. Soak the skewers for at least half an hour beforehand, to stop them burning when you cook the pheasant. See here for step by step spatchcocking.

harissa du cap bon

harissa du cap bon

I had a fantastic looking tin of Harissa du Cap Bon, which was calling out to be used. Harissa is quite easy to make, but I really liked the Tunisian packaging and it’s a good standby to have in the cupboard. If you are not familiar with harissa, it’s a hot chilli sauce – it may look like it contains tomatoes, but actually the colour comes from chillies alone.

harissa, garlic, olive oil and lemon

harissa, garlic, olive oil and lemon

I mixed the tin of harissa with 4 pieces of garlic (finely chopped), the juice of a lemon and  several slugs of olive oil. This is not for the faint hearted, harissa is very hot – you can taste this and judge for yourself, the heat can be moderated by mixing in Greek or natural yoghurt. For people wanting a milder chilli flavour a one to one mixture with yoghurt might be a good starting point.

pheasant coated in harissa

pheasant coated in harissa

Rub the pheasant all over with the harissa paste and leave for several hours or overnight. Cook in a preheated oven at 200º C for 30 – 40 minutes, breast side up. This would work equally well and perhaps even better on a barbecue.

spatchcock pheasant with harissa

spatchcock pheasant with harissa

30 minutes should be enough to cook a spatchcocked pheasant, they can be served pink. I went by the crispness and colour of the marinade.

harissa gravy

harissa gravy

I made a gravy from the juices in the bottom of the dish and some pheasant stock (that I had from my previous pheasant’s bones), while the harissa pheasant rested for 30 minutes in foil.

The chilli hot pheasant and gravy went very well with roast potatoes and cauliflower. The heat and chilli flavours are probably best suited to strong tasting meat, so pheasant is an ideal choice.

A cold glass of Kingfisher beer goes well with this, or if you are on fire, a glass of milk will quench the chilli flames.

Other pheasant posts

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45 Responses to Spatchcock Pheasant with Harissa

  1. rutheh says:

    Pretty fancy cooking MD. I could do the Kingfisher beer part! Cheers.

  2. Excellent work fella, that looks stunning, great that you are using so much game while it’s good value.

  3. Thanks for the tips on harissa…I just bought some and need to start playing with it! How much of it did you use…the whole tin, really!?! How big is the tin? (I am refraining from commenting on you once again saying how cheap and available game birds are for you….;-))

    • Mad Dog says:

      I really did use the whole tin, but it’s only the size of a can of tomato purée – maybe about 4oz. It was quite hot, but the chilli rush made me feel fantastic afterwards 😉

  4. Does the Kingfisher label by you still say “Most thrilling chilled”? That is probably my favorite slogan for beer ever and I was so sad when they took it off the label here…

  5. I like the label of the Cap Bon harissa too. Here we get it in tubes. This looks delicious but I think I’d have to add quite a lot of yogurt to the hot harissa.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks – I think if you taste the marinade you can work out the right harissa to yoghurt ration to suit your taste buds and with a tube you can do a little bit at a time. It certainly doesn’t seem to loose any heat through cooking 😉

  6. Fantastic! I spatchcocked a chicken once (somehow that seems so naughty) but pheasant would be just so much more flavorful!

  7. This looks really divine, I’m sure well hung pheasant copes well with the lovely harissa. Sadly, not too many pheasants here except a local pet which my twitcher neighbour would take exception to me having for the table. 🙂 Greylag goose may be a good substitute. Thanks!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Tracey, that’s very sad, I’d have thought there would be lots of pheasant where you live. I do appreciate though, that I have an amazing butcher and farmers’ market. I doubt that a lot of people in London even realise that they are there…
      I like the look of those geese – hopefully you’ll be blogging about them 🙂

  8. Tessa says:

    Looks absolutely delicious! I’ve heard of but never tried harissa before. You’ve convinced me to find it and try it. Is it hotter than sambal oelek?

  9. ChgoJohn says:

    I bet this was very flavorful, MD, but I’d also bet that harissa is a bit too spicy for me. Then again, I won’t know until I try it, eh? 😉

  10. cecilia says:

    I hate it when you crucify those little birdies like that, but love it that you can buy pheasant or are you out shooting them on holloway road?! c

    • Mad Dog says:

      Well it was quite dead and didn’t suffer by my hand. I wish I could shoot them locally, but the only wild things around here are foxes and Larousse assures me they taste bad 😉

      • cecilia says:

        ah, i did wonder why you have not served us a good hearty fox stew yet, are there any fox recipes in your medieval books? maybe no-one has ever eaten fox.. i for one would feel really bad eating basil brush! c

        • Mad Dog says:

          Well Larousse says that fox is edible, but the flesh is tough and has an unpleasant wild taste. The Wordsworth Guide to Edible Plants and Animals, says that all 21 species of fox are edible and it’s sometimes eaten in the Arctic, China and the Sahara.

  11. expatchef says:

    That looks divine!!!! I love harissa, and I think I need to go over your spatchcock steps to try this! need to figure out where to buy pheasant here in Madrid…all this talk about pheasant has me craving some!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Carla. I think there are pheasant throughout Spain, but partridge might be more popular. They always sold them on the foie gras stall in the Boqueria, but that’s not much use to you now!

  12. Eha says:

    OK, no pheasant to spatchcock, but a couple of lamb shanks to marinate in a few moments [what has one to do with the other: well my mind has a tendency to work in mysterious ways 🙂 !] – so, guess what! To me harissa provides a wide ‘warmth’ in the world of chillies, have never had the same love affair with smbal oelek: don’t believe it is as adaptable either!!

  13. Beautiful and now that I’ve seen the photos I’ve realised that the little Caribbean shop in Bexhill sells this brand of Harissa so am going to pop in today and pick some up! Love the idea of a hot, chilli gravy (with the Kingfisher of course)!

  14. Great looking pheasant. Talk about spicy…a whole can of harissa. You are a very brave man. Love the tip on using skewers.

  15. Would be an excellent BBQ recipe! Looks great. Usually a brace hanging there with my name on whenever I go down home to see the folks, so I’ll try this…

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