Pheasant with whisky

Pheasant with whisky

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
2 small onions
100g butter
2 oven-ready pheasants
150ml whisky
150ml Chicken and veal stock
300ml double cream
1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard
squeeze lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Halve, peel and finely dice the onions. Melt the butter in a flameproof casserole over a low to medium heat and gently fry the onions until golden. Remove the onions and set aside. Season the pheasants and brown them all over, one at a time, in the casserole, about 10–15 minutes per pheasant.
  3. Return the onions and both pheasants to the casserole and flambé with 120 ml of the whisky, shaking the pan gently until the flames subside. Add the stock, cover tightly and cook in the oven for 20–30 minutes until the birds are just cooked and tender. Pheasant can be served pink, so don’t overcook them.
  4. Remove the birds to a board and set aside in a warm place to rest.
  5. Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the onions, return the liquid to the casserole and place over a high heat. Boil to reduce to about 4–5 tablespoons, taking care not to let the juices boil dry. Add the cream and reduce again until the sauce lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon. If the sauce over-reduces and becomes too thick, add a splash of water.
  6. Joint the pheasants (as for chicken), transfer the pieces to a warmed serving dish and set aside in a warm place.
  7. Remove the casserole from the heat, add the mustard and remaining 30 ml whisky, or to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Add a little lemon juice to balance the cream, then pour the sauce around the pheasant. The whisky should give a subtle and not overpowering flavour.


  • Any poultry can be used in place of pheasant; guinea fowl is particularly good. If you prefer, you can joint the pheasants before browning and cooking them, or just use pheasant breasts. The cooking time, once browned, would need to be reduced to 10–20 minutes, depending on the size of the joints.
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