A pheasant plucking curry
The curry challenge continues and we are adding more and more recipes to our armoury. This one has a bit of a backstory. My stepdad is quite a discerning chap. A man of the finest Italian leather shoes, cars spec-ed more highly than most space shuttles, and more technology than he has knowhow. He is also known to be discerning when it comes to all things eating and drinking, particularly when it comes to his own culinary creations. In short, he doesn't do things by halves.
The two dishes he is known in our family for are a truly, truly terrible apricot soup. It had the texture, colour and flavour of vomit. We do not know what possessed him to even try to make it but it is routinely referenced to an accompaniment of derisory laughter. The second dish was at the other end of the success scale and a real triumph: pheasant curry. Not just any pheasant curry (not that I had, indeed, ever had any other pheasant curry before trying this), but a perfectly balanced, fragranced and aromatic. Whatever reputation pheasant has for being "a bit of a dry, stringy old bird", in this curry it came into its own. Every last drop was hoovered up and it is still referred to with a particular kind of reverie reserved for meals past that has a very particular effect on one's tastebuds.
10 years on from the first taste of this pheasant curry, I finally got my hands on the recipe and whipped up my own batch. It didn't disappoint. The curry has a light sweetness from the coconut with the apple cutting through. The spicing is aromatic rather than giving heat and the redcurrant jelly adds sweetness. It is still as good as it was ten years ago.
I don't know the name of the recipe book that it came from - it was scrawled on a piece of paper - but am willing to share...
- roast two pheasants in a moderate oven for twenty minutes, cool and pick the meat from the carcasses
- separately heat 4 tablespoons of ghee or butter in a large frying pan and gently fry the following spices: 2 tsp ground coriander; 1/2 tsp ground chillies; 1.5 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp ground cardamon; 1/2 tsp ground tumeric; 1/2 tsp ground pepper; 1 tsp salt; and 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- add 1 large onion sliced, 1 mashed clove of garlic and 2 peeled and diced apples and fry until soft. Add the pheasant chunks and keep turning until well coated and browned
- Add 1 pint of stock, 1 bay leaf,1 cinnamon stick, juice of 1/2 a lemon and 2 tsp of redcurrant jelly. Simmer over a low heat for 90 minutes until the meat is tender
- Add 1/2 pint of coconut milk for the last 10 minutes. If necessary, thicken with a little cornflower mixed with water