Pheasant and Sausage Casserole


I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a recipe for pheasant and sausages (on the web) a few weeks ago, but having gone back to find it (and I did search extensively) all I can see now are topics on pheasant sausages. So, having a glass half full, I set out to create my own recipe.

The pheasant is native to Asia and was probably introduced to Britain by the Romans – they were definitely well established by the time of the Normans. It’s relatively easy to buy pheasant from a decent butcher during the shooting season, October 1st to February 1st and from December onwards they should be the size of a small chicken. I recommend hanging pheasant (intact), in a cool dry place, for at least 3 days and up to 10 days to improve the flavour. Once plucked and gutted a pheasant should be refrigerated and eaten within a couple of days. A good sized pheasant will feed 2 people (even greedy ones like me).

cumberland sausages

Cumberland sausages take their name from the Cumberland pig – an animal bred for the cold wet climate of Cumberland (now part of Cumbria) in the North of England. These pigs became extinct in the 1950s, but their name lives on in this popular British sausage, which contains black pepper, herbs (sage in particular) and spices. The Cumberland sausage is traditionally produced in a single coil without links, but it’s common to find individual Cumberland style sausages in all butchers and supermarkets.

Pheasant and Sausage Casserole recipe (serves 4):

1 large pheasant (jointed)
3 large Cumberland sausages
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
3 teaspoons rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), 6 juniper berries, coarse sea salt and black peppercorns ground in a mortar and pestle
a heaped teaspoonful pimentón de la Vera picante
2 dessertspoons plain flour
a big squeeze anchovy paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 pint pheasant stock
1/8 pint crème fraîche
a glass of red wine
a splash of red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)


Chop up the pheasant into 6 large pieces and whatever meat that can be removed from the underside.

streaky bacon

Using a cast iron casserole, brown the bacon in olive oil and remove for later.

cumberlands browning

Brown the sausages all over and reserve.

pheasant browning

Dredge the pheasant pieces in seasoned flour (mix in half the ground herbs)  and taking care not to overcrowd the pan, fry the bird until it takes some colour. The idea (at this stage) is to caramelise the sugars in the skin and increase the depth of flavour – the proper cooking comes later. Add the pheasant to the bacon and sausage plate, once it has been suitably bronzed.


Fry the onion in extra virgin olive oil until it goes translucent, before stirring in the carrot, celery and garlic. Half the bacon can go back in now, but save the rest for later. Mix any leftover flour into the mirepoix to make a roux. Slowly stir in the pheasant stock and red wine to make a rich sauce. The remaining herbs, bay leaves, pimentón, anchovy paste and red wine vinegar can go in now too. Bring the sauce to a simmer and check the taste – add more seasoning if necessary.

pheasant in stock

Return the pheasant pieces to the casserole, followed by the sausages. Cover with a lid and place the pot in a preheated oven at 150º C.

pheasant and sausages

Cook the pheasant and sausage casserole for 2 hours in the oven, stirring occasionally.

cream tornado

When two hours are up, check the seasoning again before mixing in 1/8th pint of crème fraîche.

pheasant and sausages with cream

Sprinkle the remaining half of the crispy bacon on top of the casserole for decoration and serve with mashed potato.

Wine suggestion: Spanish red, Abadal Crianza.

Other pheasant posts

About Mad Dog
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14 Responses to Pheasant and Sausage Casserole

  1. jmcheney says:

    How fabulous this does read! I will eat this dish someday, probably in my dreams. Bon appétit to you, sir.

  2. Eha says:

    I remember being an immigrant kid in Australia and thinking Cumberland sausages so ‘exotic’ because of their name and the fact I could not buy them 🙂 !! Love your casseroles, and you know that, but may not put up my hand re ‘pheasant’ – may just have to come a’visiting to remember the taste . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – in comparison to the cheap and nasty supermarket sausages I remember from the 60s and 70s, good Cumberlands are almost exotic 😉

  3. Beautiful! And brings back a strange memory of an amazing butcher we have close to home in Spain that sells the most amazing Cumberland sausages (well, Cumberland flavoured from Spanish pork). Turns out they had and English butcher working with them many years ago and he gave them the recipe and they’re so popular they continue to make them 😀

    • Mad Dog says:

      How amazing! I have a suspicion that the type of seasoning might go back a few centuries or millennia – botifarra seem a bit similar and they supposedly date back to the Romans…

  4. Michelle says:

    Such beautiful birds. And glad to know I’m not alone in misremembering or losing recipes I’ve seen on the Internet. Someday I’ll organize the few I actually remembered to bookmark. (Yeah, right. When I organize my digital photo collection…)

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Michelle – I think the reality, this time, is that I saw the word pheasant plus sausages and my imagination took over. I didn’t actually read a recipe and think what I saw must have been a pheasant sausage recipe…

  5. Ron says:

    Mad, I think I had another memory lapse because I could have sworn I commented on this.
    Now, you come up with and cook some mighty fine dishes, but this one is a big keeper. Cumberland sausages (frozen) can be had here at the “English Store” and pheasant are plentiful, so this one’s going in the pot.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Ron – I just checked the spam and can’t find an older comment.
      I imagine any good sausages will work, especially ones with herbs and pepper. Venison or similar would be excellent!

  6. Conor Bofin says:

    Another typical MD dish. You cook with a great style, bringing huge flavour to the slightly ‘off the beaten track’. Keep at it.

  7. Karen says:

    Well butchers don’t sell pheasants in our area and if I hung them my neighbors would think I lost my mind…especially if they saw me plucking them afterwards. Yes, this is one of your recipes that I’ll just have to imagine how good it is. 😀

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Karen – I think it’s too hot in Florida to hang game without having a temperature controlled room. I’ve found roadkill pheasant here in spring and cooked them the same day to be on the safe side.

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