Pheasant with bacon, chestnuts, fennel & walnuts

by Neil Forbes


4 long streaky bacon rashers
4 plump hen pheasant breasts
50ml rapeseed oil
A handful of thick-cut, dry-cured bacon lardons
A few baby onions, peeled
1 head of fennel, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch batons, fronds reserved
A few sprigs of thyme
A handful of chestnuts (re-cooked vacuum packed are fine)
A handful of walnuts
A knob of butter
Good salt and black pepper


Lay a piece of streaky bacon (north to south) on a clean surface and place a pheasant breast in the middle (east to west) and roll the ends of the rasher around until the pheasant is covered. Repeat for the other three breasts.

Heat a frying pan on the hob and add half the oil. Fry the wrapped breasts in the hot oil until golden all over. This will take a few mins. Place the whole pan in a moderately hot oven for 12-15 mins, until just firm. Allow to rest.

Meanwhile, cook your garnish. Heat another frying pan and add the rest of the oil. Get it hot, then sauté the bacon lardons with the baby onions and fennel.

After 2 mins, add the thyme, chestnuts and walnuts, tossing all the time. Add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Finish in the oven for a further 10 mins, or until the fennel is soft and the onions and bacon are cooked. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the fennel fronds.

To serve, divide the lardon mixture between 4 plates. Flash the pheasant under the grill to warm them back up before slicing and arranging on top of the garnish. Simple.

Recipe: Neil Forbes