Pheasant with Cauliflower and Harissa

pheasant, cauliflower and harissa

Pheasant is back in season and there’s much to be said for it’s flavoursome meat. These birds can take just about any type of seasoning that you’d care throw at them, without losing their own identity …and having lived outdoors, they contain less fat than a chicken! Here, I’ve marinated and baked a pheasant with North African harissa and lemon, along with cauliflower, onions and potatoes to great effect.


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 to medium chicken.


1 large pheasant (jointed)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 dessertspoons harissa paste
3 dessertspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 dessertspoon fresh coriander, also known as cilantro (chopped)
the juice of half a lemon

jointed pheasant

Joint the pheasant and remove any small pieces of meat from underneath the carcass – do use the bones for stock.


Chop, squeeze and mix up the marinade.


Marinate the pheasant in a suitable container for 24 hours in the fridge – don’t use metal, it may react badly with the acid in the lemon juice.

Pheasant with Cauliflower and Harissa recipe (serves 2):

1 marinated pheasant
3 or 4 medium potatoes (sliced)
1 large onion (sliced)
6 cloves garlic (sliced down the middle)
1/4 cauliflower (florets)
1/2 lemon (sliced)
a few sprigs of thyme
1/4 pint game stock
the marinade
a small squirt of anchovy paste
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
olive oil

Take the marinated pheasant out of the fridge for an hour before cooking, so that it comes to room temperature.


Preheat the oven to 200º C and poach the sliced potatoes in plenty of olive oil for 20 minutes.


Next, place the the slices of onion and the garlic on top of the potatoes, drizzle with a little more olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper. Return to the oven for for 10 minutes.

marinated pheasant with cauliflower

Spread the pheasant pieces out on top of the baking dish, along with the sliced lemon thyme sprigs and cauliflower florets. Dip the cauliflower in the marinade first to flavour it. Mix and warm the marinade, game stock and anchovy paste, before pouring evenly over the pheasant. Cook for an hour in the oven at 200º C.

baked pheasant, cauliflower and harissa

Pour off the liquid at the end and let the meat and vegetables rest under a canopy of foil. Remove most of the oil (cool and refrigerate – use it to make roast potatoes or similar on another day) and make a roux, then gravy, with half a dessertspoon of flour and the juices. If necessary, add a little more game stock and harissa, if it needs an extra kick.

harissa gravy

The gravy makes for a fantastic explosion of harissa heat and citrus in the mouth, which goes perfectly with pheasant and cauliflower. If you can’t access pheasant this will be brilliant with chicken! I recommend drinking a glass or two of Pheasant Gully Shiraz Cabernet, from South Australia, with the dish.

Other Pheasant posts

About Mad Dog
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8 Responses to Pheasant with Cauliflower and Harissa

  1. Eha says:

    *laughter* Do not know why I am writing this as you well know what I am putting down ! Love the harissa/coriander marinade and the cauliflower in the dish !! For me more cauli and less potato !! Since it very definitely is not pheasant shooting season here shall have to work out the nearest possible option . . . be well, . . take care . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – I’m quite sure you can leave out the potato or substitute another vegetable. I have tried this with chicken, which is very good, or wood pigeon is probably the closest tasting bird to pheasant.

      • Eha says:

        Have just looked up pheasants in Australia: thought you would get a laugh –
        * there are over ten pet shops in Sydney alone which sell pheasants as pets
        * there are a few specialist growers for food: average price $A40 per bird
        At the same time pheasant is described as ‘ a chicken driving a Maserati’ – methinks wee are not meant to win in this one . . . !!!

        • Mad Dog says:

          That is funny, though the rich bankers here, who pay to shoot pheasant, fork out £1000 to go on a shoot and then about £25 per bird. Some of them will shoot 100 pheasants, take half a dozen home and the rest get sent to the butcher, where they retail at £3.50 – £6 each.

  2. Ron says:

    Another fine meal I’d be very proud to sitdown to. My hunting club (I’m an honorary non-shooting member, which means I pay my annual fee and get a share of the hunt.) is out this weekend shooting some pheasent (hopefully). If I’m blessed with one it will be in a pot as per your recipe…

  3. Karen says:

    This is certainly a delicious sounding dish I would enjoy, I will just have to substitute chicken as I’ve never seen pheasant in our markets.

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