Flipping snow the bird

Ready to eat

Look, I’m not even going to mention the ‘s’ word. It’s not so much the snow (oh, how quickly those January resolutions vanish) I mind, nor the cold, nor the wet, but now, after the first few postcard-y weeks, it’s the absence of colour that’s doing me in. I’m enveloped in a gloomy new palette that runs the gamut from smoke, to mouse, lead pipe and speculum (A lifetime ago when I worked for an interiors magazine, I ordered two litres of emulsion for a shoot in a stylish grey, called ‘speculum’ on the paint chart. I kid you not. Very Dead Ringers). It requires a more subtle level of connoisseurship than I posses to appreciate.

Colourful spices

So I retreat to the comfort of my kitchen Crayola box, more specifically to my spice drawer, and its soul-feeding riot of reds, yellows and rich ochres. I had a brace of pheasant that needed using up and combining the bounty from a chilly Scottish moor with the heat of far away spice markets seemed like the perfect two finger salute to slush, ice and grimy, gritty pavements.

Pheasant chitarnee

Pheasant chitarnee

This recipe is from The Game Cookbook  by Johnny Scott and the entirely life-enhancing, gloom-banishing Clarissa Dickson Wright, only very slightly adapted by me (I had no fresh ginger so used dried, and I added some mustard seeds and saffron, just for the sunniness of it). I’m sure it would be delicious with chicken too.

6 onions, finely chopped
3 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsps fresh coriander, chopped
6 green cardamom pods
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
Pinch of saffron
2 pheasants, cut into serving portions
1x400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve: basmati rice, yoghurt, more coriander

Warm the oil over a medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Cook the onions gently in the oil until they are golden. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, coriander, cardamom, chillies and saffron and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Add the pieces of pheasant to the pan and sauté, turning occasionally for about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and vinegar and cook for 30 minutes until the pheasant is well coated with the thickened sauce. If the dish is a little too sharp, add a pinch of sugar. Serve with basmati rice with yoghurt and coriander over the top.

8 thoughts on “Flipping snow the bird

  1. Lucie – Thank you, it was good! Hope you're keeping warmmmmmmmm.
    Denise – Just looking at spices cheers me up, and banishes all thoughts of s and, indeed, the other s, from my mind.
    Catherine – I'm so happy you enjoyed it.


  2. I will be steering clear of anything labeled “speculum”, even if it's just a name on a paint can…

    Okay, let me try and erase that topic from my mind.

    Your spices and other ingredients look fantastic. Mmm. I bet it was so good.


  3. Every time I go down there, I have the tiniest frisson of fear that I might find the air raid warden himself, to go with the helmet. Venison rummaging forays have been sorely disappointing to date, but I will let you know should that change. And I do have a weakness for ginger ale, flat or not, so I envy you that.
    Love and, indeed, a licked spoon to you my dear, Dx


  4. Honest to Pete (as my dear mother would say), you have the darnedest leftovers in your fridge. While I open the door to scan the mysterious remains in my cheese drawer, you fling open your bountiful icebox to reveal tubs of homemade yougurt; drawer-rummaging shows forth exotic spices; mincemeat appears in tupperware tubs, who knows, a haunch of venison might be keeping your air-raid helmet company in your capacious and slightly scary basement!
    You inspire me to eat as the earth provides…bountifully!

    Cheers, Lady Bountiful. Here's a glass of flat ginger ale I found in my icebox door to you.
    Love, Marline, the Detritus-ly Deprived


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