Pheasant Curry

poaching pheasant

poaching pheasant

December 8th, 2013

As pheasant is cheap and easily available in Britain at this time of year, I though it was about time that I made a pheasant curry. This is quite fitting since pheasants (Latin phasianus) are native to Asia and Eastern Europe. The Romans like hunting and eating pheasant so much that they introduced them throughout their empire.

First of all, the pheasant needs to be poached with vegetables to produce a stock – this also makes it easy to remove the meat.

Pheasant Stock:

1 large pheasant (plucked)
1 large onion (peeled)
4 small carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 leak tops
6 pieces of garlic (peeled)
a sprig of rosemary, sage and thyme
2 bay leaves
6 juniper berries (whole)
a pinch of sea salt and a few black peppercorns (8 or so)
1 1/2 pints of water

poached pheasant

poached pheasant

Put the pheasant, herbs, 1 whole onion (peeled), carrots, celery, 2 leak tops, 6 pieces of garlic, the herbs, juniper, a pinch of sea salt and peppercorns into a cast iron casserole, along with the water. Heat your oven to 120º C, while you bring the water in the casserole to almost boiling. Skim off any froth or scum on top of the water, place the lid on the casserole and put it in the oven for one and a half hours. Do turn the pheasant over half way through. When done, remove the pheasant, allow it to cool, strain and reserve the stock. When the pheasant is cool, remove and chop all the meat – discard the bones.

Pheasant Curry recipe (serves 4):

The meat of 1 large pheasant (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
2 small carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
1 small cauliflower (discard the leaves and break up the white flowery part)
5 – 6 large tomatoes, blanched and skin removed (or a tin of plum peeled tomatoes)
2 dessertspoons of tomato purée
a small squirt of anchovy paste
half a dessertspoonful of flour
a splash of red wine
1 big slug of olive oil or some ghee
1 pint of pheasant stock

Curry Paste:
1 desert spoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of turmeric seeds
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
a little ground fenugreek
a few black pepper seeds
1/4 teaspoon of mustard seed
1 splash of red wine vinegar

Make the paste first, by warming a frying pan and adding the coriander, turmeric and cumin seeds. When they start to smell aromatic, turn the heat off and put them in a mortar. The warming process will help them to release more flavour during cooking, but be carful not to burn them or you will spoil the taste.

Grind up all the curry paste ingredients with a mortar and pestle and then drizzle in the red wine vinegar until you have a thick paste.



In a large cast iron casserole, start cooking by browning the onion in olive oil (or ghee if you have some). Once the onion has taken some colour, stir in the carrots, celery and garlic. Coat the vegetables completely in oil before stirring in the paste and half a dessertspoonful of flour.

vegetables and spices

vegetables and spices

Next add the tomatoes (an easy way of crushing up the tomatoes is by using a potato masher). Squeeze in the tomato purée and anchovy paste then pour in a little red wine. Keep stirring and allow the sauce to come to simmer before tasting.

pheasant meat

pheasant meat

Put the pheasant meat into the curry sauce – stir in and pour on some pheasant stock (probably about half a pint to start with).

pheasant curry

pheasant curry

The curry should be reasonably thick, with a stew like consistency. More stock can be added to the dish as needed. Bring the pot to the boil, put the lid on and cook in a preheated oven at 120º C for 1 and 1/2 hours.

pheasant curry with cauliflower

pheasant curry with cauliflower

I added the flourettes from a small cauliflower during the last half hour. If they are cooked for much longer than 30 minutes they go a bit soggy.

Do taste the curry before serving with basmati rice and poppadoms. Adjust the flavour with wine, vinegar, anchovy and or tomato paste if necessary. I’m quite partial to some lime pickle on the side too.

Drink Cobra beer or a robust red wine, such as Cantina di Casteggio from Oltrepó Pavese.

Other pheasant posts

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56 Responses to Pheasant Curry

  1. Eha says:

    Dear Mad ~ roaring with laughter at your statement of pheasant being cheap and easily available in UK!! Know how you must feel when we Down Under talk of all the ‘easily available’ Asian stuff here, ’cause the bird is certainly not that here nor is it cheap!!! Want to try your recipe with ‘flying things’ we can access – like the way you have made the stock, the unusual anchovy paste and red wine in the total dish and I would love to taste your curry paste, very soft on the palate with all that coriander and no chilli components at all – methinks there is a lot of European finesse there! Thanks!!! [Oh, loved your comment at Chica’s!!!!]

  2. Michelle says:

    Nice. I’ve only occasionally cooked pheasant. They don’t really live here, except at stocked game places. We saw lots and lots of them in Herefordshire and Wales earlier this year, though. So pretty!

  3. Top curry….the lanes are around here are alive with pheasants. It was funny seeing “my” Le Creuset casserole in your pictures. I was making a chilli yesterday and the overhead shot looked exactly the same:)

  4. I’m seeing pheasant here in the butchers a lot and Big Man is away (he’s not a curry fan) so am planning a lot of curries this week! Love that it has red wine in – love your style. And those juniper berries are here again 🙂

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Tanya – now’s your chance 😉
      I was talking to Martin the farmer yesterday, who said the place next to his farm in Kent does pheasant shoots – they charge the shooter £27 per bird. The people who can afford it will shoot hundreds of them and they only take home half a dozen. The rest get sold for 50p! Hence a large supply at reasonable prices in butchers shops and farmers markets. In London they are between £3 – £4. Don’t buy one from a supermarket, they are half the size and twice the price.

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    Great idea MD. I haven’t cooked a pheasant for a couple of years. Time to see if the recession has got the better of the overpriced varieties we get here.

  6. andreamynard says:

    Really excited when I saw you’d been cooking pheasant curry. We’ve just been given 3 this weekend by farming friends and was browsing new recipes. Agree that as meat eaters we should be eating more game – it’s plentiful, cheap and as free-range as you can get. Your curry looks great, will definitely be giving it a go.

  7. Karen says:

    I’ve never seen a pheasant in our markets and if I was lucky enough to find one, I’m sure it would be expensive. I do enjoy pheasant when we are in Europe and can just imagine how good your dish is.

  8. sybaritica says:

    Wow times change … when I was a kid growing up in Britain, pheasant was almost never seen and had a reputation as being a ‘high-class’, Lords and Ladies only type of dish… In eastern Canada it is readily hunted and eaten and quite common.

    • Mad Dog says:

      You are quite right – it’s only in the last 20 years that it’s become a very popular sport for overpaid bankers and the direct result is cheap pheasant 😉

  9. Lovely MD. Agree completely – back home in Worcestershire, my folks get a brace delivered to the door at least once a week by local hunters having once expressed an interest in taking off them (for free of course). They’re pretty sick of pheasant now :-0

    I, on the other hand, living in the suburbs these days and without a game butcher in easy reach, would love this…

  10. Amanda says:

    Wow, the flavors here are amazing. We used to have pheasants in our yard growing up so I’ve been a part of all aspects of the pheasant eating process. I haven’t had one in years!

  11. ChgoJohn says:

    This is such a great sounding curry, MD, and especially like that you made your own curry paste. Though I doubt I’ll find pheasant here — I may have to go back to Michigan for one — I’m sure I could substitute another bird.

  12. We don’t see pheasant around here at all! More reason to head over to England for a visit!

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  14. We don’t get pheasants here, at least none I’ve seen. I think I could replicate this with chicken? I’m sure it wouldn’t be as tasty! I love curries.. and haven’t had one in a while with all the Christmas cooking!

  15. This is so healthful and hearty and new to me (I had to google pheasant bird) because i’d thought it looked just like chicken!
    Crazy to think people will shoot and buy at £27 was shocked reading that trail of convo between you and Chica 🙂

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Fati – it’s not so much buy – it costs £27 to shoot each bird. Some people might shoot 100 birds and only take home four or five. Fortunately there are people like me who are very happy to eat them – I got two today. Most likely my last until the season starts again in October 😉

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