December 17th, 2009


Slow Cooked Pheasant Breast with Griddled Leeks and Pickled Mushrooms

A few weeks ago, the two of us took a week out from work with the aim to relax and try and do as little as possible….well that was a dream for fantasy land as we were as busy as ever!

Well our adventures included lots of food, eating and meeting with some wonderful people in the food business.

We had a spectacular lunch at the Ledbury and were inspired by the way chef Brett Graham made humble vegetables look amazing and almost gave them a new lease of life. One of the vegetables that he used, the humble leek, stayed in my mind and I was tempted to recreate Brett’s flame grilled leeks at home. I did not  flame grill the leeks but griddled them on a very hot griddle pan which gave my leeks almost the same flavour of the flames. The earthiness of the leeks is a great pairing with the earthiness of the pickled mushrooms, curly kale and the pheasant breast. It reminded me how much I have grown to love winter and the wealth of seasonal bounty on offer, who said that winter food should be brown and dull?

On the last day of our relaxing week and foodie adventures, we met the wonderful and talented Laura Santtini. Laura launched a fantastic range of spice rubs and salts in Selfridges earlier this year named Easy Tasty Magic™.

Laura has stolen my heart with this range, I was inspired to cook with it and was overwhelmed with the magic it brings to my seasonal winters ingredients. It added a touch of class and glamour to my cooking. Laura reminded me of myself and how we are both madly in love with food, cooking and our careers, the only obvious difference is that Laura has, unlike me, retained a beautiful slim figure where as my career neatly caresses my waistline.

I have chosen to use two of Laura’s Easy Tasty Magic™products in this recipe, the Carnal Sin and the Salt of The Earth. I love the vibrant pinky reds that the Carnal Sin offers, I have not only chosen it for the colour but I also love the rose petals, pink peppercorns, beetroot and sumac that Laura used in this blend. Sumac has a citrusy taste and cuts through the richness of the pheasant, the beetroot compliments the earthiness and the pink peppercorns adds a touch of mystery, perfect choice! The Salt of The Earth includes flower petals and lemon peel which works it’s magic on my pickled mushrooms and griddled leeks.


This slow cooked pheasant breast with griddled leeks and pickled mushroom dish is very pretty and fragrant and it would bring a touch of sparkle to a dull and dreary day. Perfect for a lunch, main course or serve smaller portions as a starter.

Pickled Wild Mushrooms

  • 100g mixed wild mushrooms
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 25ml walnut oil
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 in number coriander seeds

Clean the mushrooms, and cut them in even size pieces. If you are washing the mushrooms dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper.

Place both oils, sugar, vinegar, bay leaf, coriander seeds and seasoning in a small saucepan, gently heat the liquid to blood temperature, if your using a probe heat to 37°C.

Add the cleaned dried mushrooms to the warm liquid, transfer the mushrooms and liquid to a clean storage container or sterilized glass jar and leave to infuse for a minimum of one hour. I make the pickled mushrooms a day in advance. They will keep for up to five days in the pickling liquid.

Slow Cooked Pheasant Breast

Preheat the water bath to  63 °C.

Prepare the pheasant breast by removing as many of the feathers as possible. Season the breast with the Carnal Sin Blend, salt and pepper, add the zest of one lemon, the olive oil and rub all the flavourings into the breast.

Place the breast in a clean vacuum bag, wear clean disposable gloves when you are doing this, seal the bags on full vacuum.

Cook the pheasant breast in the preheated water bath till 58°C, core temperature, it takes about 28 minutes if you do not have the correct probe.

Chill the pheasant breast in ice water and refrigerate until needed.

If you do not have  a water bath then I suggest you roast the pheasant breast in the oven. Preheat the oven to  200°C. Heat a non-stick frying pan with the oil and season the pheasant breast with the Carnal Sin Spice Blend, salt and pepper and the zest of one lemon.

Brown the pheasant breast on the skin side in the hot pan, add a teaspoon of butter after one minute, brown the pheasant until golden on the skin side for about 2 minutes.

Turn it over and seal the flesh side for 1 minute.

Transfer the pheasant breast to a oven tray and roast the breast for 8 minutes, let the breast rest for 10 minutes once roasted.

Mushroom Puree

  • 60g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1tsb white wine, a splash in my measurements
  • 50ml double cream
  • 1tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with the butter, as soon as it starts to foam add the sliced mushrooms with seasoning and saute until they are golden brown.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add the chopped thyme leaves, saute for a few seconds and add the double cream, bring the cream to the boil and simmer until it became thickened.

Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a blender and blend until smooth, set aside until needed.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 in number coriander seeds
  • 2 in number white peppercorns
  • 2tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tsp sherry vinegar
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • 100ml ground nut oil or sunflower oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

First make a red wine reduction with the red wine, bay leaf, coriander seeds and peppercorns, bring the wine to the boil in a small saucepan and reduce to 50ml.

Pass the wine reduction and measure 50ml into a small jug, add the Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, pinch of caster sugar and seasoning, blend to mix, add the oil a little at a time to form an emulsion, adjust the seasoning if needed.

Transfer the red wine vinaigrette to a small clean bottle or container, set aside until needed.

Griddled Leeks

  • 3 whole leeks
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Choose preferably two very fresh and thin or young leeks .Cut the leek to the length of your serving plate, trim  and cut the root to provide a dramatic texture on the plate.

Bring a large saucepan with salted water to the boil and blanch the leeks in the rapid boiling water for 8 minutes and refresh them in ice water.

Remove the outside skins from the leeks and cut them in half length ways. I serve half a leek per portion.

Preheat a griddle pan. Season the leeks with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle the olive oil over the leeks.

Griddle the seasoned leeks till bar marks appear on both sides. Keep warm until serving.

Assemble the dish

  • 100g curly kale
  • cooked pheasant breast
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter (if you cooked the pheasant breast in the water bath)
  • pickled mushrooms
  • mushroom puree
  • griddled leeks
  • red wine vinaigrette
  • Salt of the Earth from the Easy Tasty Magic™range by Laura Santtini

Blanch the curly kale in salted boiling water, drain and finely chop. Heat the mushroom puree and drain the pickled mushrooms.

If you cooked the pheasant breast in the water bath then heat a non-stick frying pan with the butter, remove the pheasant from the bag and brown it on the skin side in the foaming butter until golden brown, cook for about 2 minutes on each side.

Rest the breast for 4 minutes and slice the breast in slices. I serve 4/5  slices per portion all depends on the size of the breast. If you roasted the pheasant breast in the oven then once the pheasant is rested slice the breast and serve.

Place the curly kale in a pile on the plate and lay one warm griddled leek over and place the warm sliced pheasant on top of the leek, place two quenelles of the warm mushroom puree on the plate. Scatter the drained pickled mushrooms and season the plate with a sprinkle of Laura's Salt of the Earth.

Serves 6 main course portions

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6 Comments to “Slow Cooked Pheasant Breast with Griddled Leeks and Pickled Mushrooms”

  1. [...] Slow Cooked Pheasant Breast with Griddled Leeks and Pickled … [...]

  2. Barry says:

    First class… will definitely use the pickled mushrooms for the Christmas plate this year… thanks for that….like the plate presentation

  3. Alex says:

    Hi Maddy,

    lovely looking dish as always, just one question though, why heat a water bath to 63 then cook the breast to 58? surely if you cooked at 58 for approximately 45 minutes you would have a truly even cooking throughout without worrying about timings or overcooking, after all if you forgot it for an hour or so,it still would not exceed the desired temperature.

    thanks and wishing you a merry christmas


  4. zenchef says:

    I’ve been looking at your blog for a little while now but it’s my first time to comment. All i want to say is that I’m very impressed by the quality of it all. Thank you so much for sharing such beautiful creations. You are very inspiring.

  5. jo says:

    Oh my! This is definitely high class restaurant food. It looks absolutely, absolutely scrumptious.

  6. wow! this looks fantastic, was just thinking to myself how much I lover winter food and this recipe is on my list to try. Agree that humble vegetables can be lifted to something memorable with a little care and attention :-)

    thanks for sharing!

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