Pheasant can be a tricky bird to cook as it’s larger than most game birds and dries out very quickly. The thighs are good for curries and pies, and the drumsticks, full of needle-like bones, always get used in stock for a broth. I often turn pheasant breasts into breadcrumbed escalopes, and the stuffed Kyiv is a good old classic. During wild-garlic season I freeze some to use in the butter filling for this, but normal garlic is fine. It’s delicious served with wilted spinach.
Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 30-40 minutes to chill
Cook time: 6-10 minutes
4 pheasant breasts with the wing bone on, skinned
120g butter, softened
2 tbsp chopped parsley
6 garlic cloves, grated, or 1 tbsp finely chopped wild garlic (when in season)
3 tbsp flour, seasoned
1 large egg, beaten
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
vegetable or corn oil, for frying
Lay the pheasant breasts on a chopping board with the small loose under-fillets facing up. Remove these fillets with your fingers and put to one side. Using a very sharp filleting knife or similar, cut a pocket: slice into (but not all the way through) the centre of each breast, running the knife out to each side, to end up with two flaps you can open and then fold back again, over the filling, later.
Mix together the softened butter, parsley and garlic, and season. Divide the mixture between the opened breasts, placing it in the middle of each one. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the little fillets that were removed and lay them over the butter. Fold the flaps back over each fillet to reform the breast, using a little of the flour to stick it and make sure it is perfectly sealed. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat about 8cm of oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan or deep-fat fryer to 160-180C.
Have three dishes ready, one with the seasoned flour spread out on it, one with the beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs. Season the stuffed breasts and coat them in the flour, dusting off any excess, then put them through the egg and finally through the breadcrumbs.
Deep-fry the pheasant breasts for 6-7 minutes (8-10 minutes if they’re large), until golden, then lift out to sit on kitchen paper to drain before serving with wilted spinach.