Pheasant pasta

Pheasant pasta

The Islands of Greece
Steven Joyce

In the mountainous interior of many of the Greek islands, hunting for game is very popular, regardless of whether it is technically allowed or not. Slow-cooked game birds such as pheasant make a wonderful sauce for Greek pasta.

Cooking the meat with bones in and removing them later makes for a richer and more flavoursome sauce but, if you prefer, you or your butcher can de-bone the bird before cooking.


Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pheasant, jointed, with bones
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
120ml red wine
1 sprig thyme leaves
1/2 sprig rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon dried greek oregano
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
200g dried long pasta, such as tagliatelle
1 tablespoon pine nuts, to serve (optional)
chopped parsley leaves, to serve


  1. Get a wide pan hot over a medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and brown the pheasant really thoroughly until golden brown all over. You may need to do this in batches, otherwise it will stew rather than brown.
  2. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Reduce the heat under the pan to low. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes, just long enough for the vegetables to take on a little colour and soften. Next, add the tomato purée and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the wine. Turn the heat up and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon. Then return the meat to the pan, and pour in 375 ml of water (or a little more if necessary) to cover. Add the herbs, vinegar and a generous grinding of salt and pepper. Once it has returned to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for an hour, or until the meat is really tender.Remove all the meat from the pan and pick it from the bones (you may like to warn your guests that small pieces of bone may remain!). Return the meat to the pan. Add 150 ml boiling water and the uncooked pasta. Stir. Cook, with the lid on, stirring once or twice, until the pasta is al dente (how long exactly will depend on what sort of pasta you choose). Keep an eye on the pot and add 1–2 tablespoons of water if it starts to stick to the bottom. Meanwhile toast the pine nuts (if using) in a dry pan for 2–3 minutes, until golden. To serve, stir in the parsley and scatter the pine nuts on top.
The Islands of Greece
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