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Cure recipe and top freezing tips for pheasant

PUBLISHED: 17:15 24 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:15 24 February 2016

ssh march one for the pot

ssh march one for the pot

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Tim Maddams provides a cure recipe and gives some top tips on getting the most out of your frozen pheasant meat

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If you ever find yourself with a surplus of game meat, or just want to improve the quality of your frozen meat, Tim Maddams has the answer in this brilliant cure recipe. It’s quick, easy, and makes such a difference to the finished product that you’ll wonder why you never caught on sooner!

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Serves 2

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients

✦ 100g golden caster sugar

✦ 100g table salt

✦ 4 bay leaves, chopped

✦ 10 black peppercorns and 4 juniper berries, crushed

✦ 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed

ssh march one for the potssh march one for the pot

Method

Mix all the ingredients together and pop them in a jar. It will keep for ages, so don’t worry about the amount you have. Now, season the next batch of breast meat that is destined for the freezer with this mix. Leave it for 15 minutes and then rinse off and pat dry.

If you want to cook it straight away then just carry on; remember, it’s almost a sort of pheasant bacon on the outside now, so you will need a little less salt in whatever dish you decide to make. You could, at this point, smoke the breasts in a hot smoker, for example, or you could pop them in the freezer. Whatever you decide to do with them, one thing is certain – the final dish will be better, with more depth and of a higher quality than if you had just chucked the meat in a bag and bunged it in the freezer.

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Top tips for getting the most out of your frozen meat (particularly pheasant):

• If you are dealing with whole birds, examine them first: is it an old bird, particularly a cock, or has meat damage/is muddy, then it will be no good for roasting whole. De-breast and de-leg it.

• Younger birds in good condition can be hung for a while, but any with more than minimal damage should be prepared as soon as possible, to avoid contamination.

• Separate the legs from the thighs and remove the thigh bone. Bag the legs for braising at a later date.

• It doesn’t take much longer to braise a dozen than it does a brace, so store the legs up, and make a big batch.

• After the slow cooking process, you can pick the meat from the bones and sinew, and add it back to the braise, to either finish some pasta or to serve as a stew. You can then divide the braise into tubs and refreeze for almost instant dinners at a later date.

• Rub the thigh meat with salt, pepper, oil, rosemary, and star anise powder, before bagging in batches of six and freezing. Once defrosted, these work very well on the BBQ, or shredded in stir-fries, or even minced up and used in a game pie or terrine.

• Breasts are the best candidates for simple freezing. Use the cure recipe above to help preserve the meat structure, improving the juiciness and flavour of the meat.

• make a note on a little sticker of the date, where the meat was shot and what it is before freezing, as it’s amazing how everything starts to look alike once it’s in a bag in the freezer!

For some amazing recipes from Tim Maddams at River Cottage, click here!n

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