Updated: Feb 8, 2021
by Jon Murnane from The Stowe Cookbook: Recipes from Lockdown
Jon Murnane is Head of Classics at Stowe School and his wife Sarah (who is Head of Geography) says this is one of his best dishes!
knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
100g streaky bacon, pancetta or lardons
2 cloves of garlic (peeled & chopped)
8 shallots, peeled; large ones halved
2 good handfuls of chopped mushrooms
200g chestnuts (the vacuum-packed ones work well)
200ml Madeira (or Port, dark sherry, or red wine at a push)
300ml chicken stock
2 sprigs of rosemary
a handful of sage leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / Gas 6
2. Heat the butter & oil in a heavy casserole dish, then add the pheasant.
3. Cook on the hob over a medium heat, turning regularly until golden all over. Remove to a plate.
4. Add the bacon, garlic, shallots, mushrooms & rosemary to the casserole, & cook over a medium heat for 10 mins or so until golden.
5. Return the pheasant to the casserole, breast-side down. Scatter the chestnuts around the bird & pour in the Madeira.
6. Bring to the boil & bubble for a few mins, then pour in the stock & return to the boil.
7. Cover with a tight-fitting lid & transfer to the oven to cook for 30-35mins.
8. Check the pheasant is cooked by sticking the point of a sharp knife into the thickest part of one of the thighs – the juices should run clear.
9. Remove the casserole from the oven, transfer the pheasant & vegetables to a plate, with a slotted spoon, & cover with foil.
10. Put the casserole on the hob & add the sage, then bubble for 5 mins until the juices are thickened.
11. Carve the pheasant, serve with the vegetables, & pour over the Madeira gravy.
Nigel would serve this with mashed potato & carrots, or a winter veg of choice.
For a veggie version, omit the bacon, use vegetable stock & peel & chop turnips (ideally baby ones), parsnips, carrots, or any combination of your favourite winter veg, but keep the pieces quite chunky. Put them in cold salted water, bring to the boil & then brown in the casserole dish, as you would do for the pheasant, then follow the rest of the recipe.