Pheasant with Navy Beans

pheasant with navy beans

Pheasant were probably introduced to Britain by the Romans and were definitely well established by the time of the Normans. It should be 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).


Pheasant with Navy Beans recipe (serves 3 people):

1 large pheasant (jointed)
1/2 chorizo picante ring (chopped)
2 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
250g dried navy beans (or 1 tin)
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
2 bay leaves
a heaped teaspoonful smoked pimentón dulce
1/2 teaspoonful smoked pimentón picante
a pinch of crushed chillis
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1 dessertspoon tomato pureé
a squirt of anchovy paste
1/2 pint pheasant stock
a glass of red wine
a splash of sherry vinegar
extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

navy beans

Navy beans originally came from the Americas. The beans became popular in Spain and perhaps slow cooked bean dishes were spread through Europe by the Jews expelled from Iberia (though initially these would have been dried broad beans). It is thought that the bean returned to the Americas in long slow cooked dishes, like cholent, which is probably the origin of cassoulet in France and baked beans in the United States.  If using dry beans like me, do make sure you soak and cook them beforehand. Obviously beans from a jar or tin are ready to use.

pheasant browned

Joint the pheasant, season it and brown all over in extra virgin olive oil. You are not cooking the meat at this stage, just caramelising the sugars in the skin. Don’t overcrowd the pan, do this in two batches if necessary. When suitably brown, remove the pheasant to a plate.

bacon, chorizo and onion

Using the same cooking vessel (cazuela or cast iron casserole) and oil, gently fry a chopped onion until it is soft and brown. Stir in the bacon and chorizo with  pinch of crushed chilli and allow the meat to take some colour.

carrot, celery and garlic

Add the carrot, celery and garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes, before mixing in the tomato purée and anchovy paste, then sprinkle on the ground herbs, pimentón and flour – stir to create a roux.

bay and beans

Pour in the stock, red wine and sherry vinegar to make a a sauce. When this is done, the beans and bay leaves go in too.

pheasant with beans

Return the pheasant to the cazuela and turn the heat up to medium.


When the dish starts to simmer, cover and turn the heat down.


Cook for about an hour and a half on low (you can do this in the oven at 150º C if your cooking vessel will fit). Stir occasionally and check the seasoning after about an hour. Cook for the last 30 minutes uncovered, so that a skin starts to form on top.

Serve with seasonal vegetables and some crusty brown sourdough bread. I recommend a robust red wine to go with this, such as Palacios Remondo la Vendimia.

Other pheasant posts

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Drink, Fish, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Pheasant with Navy Beans

  1. Eha says:

    Yes, Mad, I was going to be a smart alec and post the shooting times set down for pheasant shooting in Australia – guess what ? Absolutely love your fusion recipe remembering, if this is Mad, have anchovy paste and pimento ready 🙂 ! Navy beans are not so commonly used here either but actually have some in my pantry . . . .so, on a furiously hot , unlovable E Australian Saturday afternoon, we’ll keep that in play . . .,

    • Mad Dog says:

      OMG you must be roasting! I remember going to an indoor Christmas dinner for 20 people, wearing a suit, in Wagga Wagga, with no air conditioning! I hope it cools down for you soon.

      • Eha says:

        Mad ! You have just cooled me down to being able to breathe 🙂 ! So love suited guys and ties and all the folderol . . . . but the Wagga at Yule ? And nope, we have been told another 5-6 days of getting worse ere any hope of ‘better’ . . . naturally for the Buffoon and his ilk there is no Global Warning: hope you saw David Attenborough’s immediate warning . . .

  2. My kind of food! We’re eating a lot of pulses this week to keep out the cold.

  3. Karen says:

    This is my kind of dish Mad, it is so full of flavor. Every time we are in Europe and I see pheasant on a menu, I always order it.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Karen – they seem to be either loved or loathed. I buy a couple a week during the season and find it hard to go back to chicken afterwards.

  4. Michelle says:

    Oh you lucky Brits with your delicious pheasant vendors! Delicious.

  5. Ron says:

    Mad, the snows a blowing and the wind is howling and I’m thinking a bowl of your pheasant with navy beans, some crusty bread and a nice bottle of red would make the perfect meal. I’m calling my butcher Tuesday (closed Monday as he should be) to place an order. Thanks for another fine recipe.

  6. Conor Bofin says:

    Excellent game post Mad. I love your approach, utilising the beans. Last week, I cooked a game pie with pheasant, mallard and venison. The birds were gifted. The meat from a good butcher. It was a real treat and I will post it soon.

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