Maryanne's eyes lit up when we asked her to prepare something traditional for us. She has fond memories of standing in the kitchen helping her father make pheasant with bread sauce and gravy for family dinners in Scotland during her childhood. She is certain this easy-to-throw together dish will be a hit at your lunches or dinners during the festive season.
Was your father in-charge of all the cooking at home?
Yes, he cooked all the birds and meat. And he’s very territorial about gravy, no one else was allowed to make it because no one else’s was as good as his (so he believes!).
What do you miss about Scotland?
I miss the festivities during Christmas, but not the cold. I much prefer hot weather, which is why I’ve been living in Dubai for the past five years.
Tell us about your bread sauce.
Oh, it’s heaven! It goes so well with game and is very British. I usually make a big batch of this and freeze it so I can use it over the course of a few weeks. Basically, it’s milk infused with onion, cloves and bay leaves, mixed with bread crumbs and butter.
For the gravy
For the bread sauce
For the pheasant
To make the gravy, place the chicken stock cube and 2 to 3 heaped tablespoons of bistro gravy granules into 750ml of water. Add the carrots, mushrooms, onion and thyme to the mixture, stir then simmer for an hour. Remove the vegetables and blitz in a blender. Add to gravy mix and reduce until thick. Add salt and pepper
To make the bread sauce, pour 750ml of milk into a saucepan. Stick the cloves into the onion and place in the milk along with the bay leaves and nutmeg powder. Heat until the milk comes to a boil then remove from the stove and set aside. Cover it with foil for 2 hours. In the meantime, blitz 1/2 loaf of bread until finely crumbed. After the milk mix has rested, remove the bay leaves and cloves from the onion. Blitz the onion. Add the bread crumbs (until the sauce becomes thick) and onion to the milk, stir then leave to absorb. Place a knob of butter on the top and cover – leave for an hour to absorb. Heat and serve
To prepare the pheasant, preheat the oven to 210°C, gas mark 6. Place the bird on two slices of bread. Cover the top of the bird with generous smother of butter, salt and pepper. Place two pieces of bacon on top of the bird. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes then remove the bacon. Cook for another 10 minutes, then allow it to rest for 20 minutes, covered in foil, before serving