Pheasant with Fennel

pheasant with fennel

Here’s my last pheasant dish of the season, an adaptation of a Clarissa Dickson Wright recipe – here’s her inspirational comment:

In my days as a pheasant farmer, I was interested to see how energetically the pheasants savaged the fennel in my garden. Game birds are, of course, potty about aniseed and this recipe is my revenge.


Pheasant and Fennel recipe (serves  2- 3 people):

1 large pheasant (jointed)
4 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 large fennel bulb (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
3 teaspoons rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), ground in a mortar and pestle with coarse sea salt and black peppercorns
2 dessertspoons plain flour
anchovy paste
1/2 pint pheasant stock
1/4 pint crème fraîche
a glass of dry white wine
a splash of white wine vinegar
a slug of brandy
extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)


Allow your pheasant to come to room temperature (if it’s been in the fridge) – cut the breasts off the bone and remove the legs and wings, leaving the skin on. Do cut off any additional meat from the rear and save the carcass for stock.


Chop the bacon up and fry it first, with a little extra virgin olive oil, in a cast iron casserole.


Remove the bacon from the pan, season the flour with a teaspoon of ground herbs and dust the pheasant before browning it in the bacon infused oil. Once browned (not cooked) all over, take the pheasant out and cook the onion until it goes translucent. The bacon can go back in, but hold back the equivalent of one rasher, for garnish, at the end.


Remove the fennel branches (save the little green fronds for later), cut off the bottom where the root was attached and any dry outer layers. Chop the fennel into little cubes and add it to the onions with the garlic. You may like a glass of Pastis, to go with the smell of aniseed coming from the fennel (a common ingredient in the drink, along with liquorice and star anise).

vegetables and bacon

Fry for a few minutes until the vegetables have taken some colour and softened a little.

vegetables and flour

Sprinkle on the leftover flour and remaining ground herbs then stir to make a roux.


Pour in the brandy, dry white wine and stock, stirring to make a rich sauce.

alcohol and stock

Let the liquid bubble away for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. Blend in a generous squirt of anchovy paste and taste the sauce to see if it needs further seasoning – mine wanted a little splash of white wine vinegar, another squirt of anchovy paste and some cracked black pepper.

saucy pheasant

Return the pheasant to the casserole, put the lid on and remove to a pre heated oven at 150ºC, turn the pheasant after 30 minutes. At one hour, remove from the oven and put the pheasant pieces onto a warm plate.

crème fraîche

Mix in 1/4 pint crème fraîche, Van Gogh style before checking the seasoning. When satisfied, submerge the pheasant in the sauce.


To finish off, finely chop the fennel fronds and sprinkle on top, along with the remaining bacon pieces. Serve with dauphin potatoes and fried Brussels sprouts.

I enjoyed a couple of glasses of the remaining dry white wine, Montpierre, Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc, with my supper.

Other pheasant posts

About Mad Dog
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12 Responses to Pheasant with Fennel

  1. Eha says:

    Oh Mad, how I miss that delightful alcoholic lawyer millionairess and her partner in the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ – I used to drop most everything to watch them cook and pontificate! How wonderful of you to use her pheasant recipe and make it your own! I do do my homework and noticed that the place I’ll order some other game does have pheasants: at a price of course!! Perchance we are not so ‘primitive’ Down Under after all !! Can’t wait to make as soon as the Winter Games release me from their thrall . . 🙂 !

  2. Ooh that sounds so good. I love fennel but mostly eat itmraw…I forget how good it is cooked! Hope you’re well 😀

  3. Wow, fantastic recipe. Love the “Van Gogh style” crème fraîche, ha!

  4. Michelle says:

    Oh I loved the Fat Ladies. And that looks so delicious!

  5. Ron says:

    I can totally relate to Clarissa Dickson Wright’s comment regarding Pheasant and fennel. In my farming days we had a large basil plot that our ducks were supposed to help weed and eat slugs in. Well, we had a couple of ducks that much preferred the young basil. So, we had roast duck in basil cream sauce more than once.

  6. LOL at pheasant revenge! Another classic. There’s everything wonderful in here from white wine to creme fraiche to fennel. Sometimes i look at fennel and smell it and can’t believe it exists. This looks incredible. Yours are really the only dishes that tempt me these days to come back from the vegetarian side.

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