Monday, February 7, 2011

Warm salad of roast pheasant with savoy spinach, tomato, orange and chilli

I have been quiet here for exactly a week.
I am not sure what the problem is, or if there is a problem, I just feel somehow uninspired in the kitchen.  Its not that I have not been cooking, I made delicious pizza with the boys mid-week, with leftovers for the hungry architects,  but somehow something feels awry.  Perhaps its the weather,  it is tedious, full of howling, frightening, dangerous wind and warm heavy rain.  I go for a run across the beach and the wind is so strong in one direction that I can barely take an intake of breath without it being torn from me.  I am stubborn and must get to the end, knowing that the payback is that I will be pushed gently all the way home.
Although the kitchen to me is the most warm and welcoming place where I am most comfortable, it seems a little alien at the minute.

Tonight was really no different except that I said to hell with the run and the rain and we went to our local pub, The Oarsman, with the boys for a pint after work. 
I always feel a little awkward taking them into the pub near our inner city home.  They are children and pubs are the curse to many a household here.  But we had a surprisingly adult chat about school and friends with our four year old and it was all very mature.  Time goes past so quickly that we miss these little moments.  The pizza we made this week was the second pizza he had eaten in his life. I distinctly remember when he was a baby just wishing that we could all go out to eat and enjoy a meal together without there being puree or chips present, not that pizza is any better, but I love the act of sharing food. 
Last Sunday we went to Da Vincenzo on the easterly outskirts of Ranelagh village.  It brought a tear to my eye as it was the little restaurant that M and I ate in after long Sunday walks in Wicklow, pre-babies and pre-marriage.  We have not been back since we moved into our house in 2002, nearly nine years ago.  Da Vincenzo remains the same, not one thing has changed.  It seems impervious to the economic climate, food trends and all things fashionable.  I love it for this.  The pizza is really good, the best I have tasted in Dublin to date and it was the first time J, aged four and a half ate a whole pizza.  It is now my current favourite restaurant, and interestingly run by a well educated Egyptian who feels passionately about the many injustices suffered in his country to date. 

On a totally different train of thought, today's dinner was inspired  as a revolt against the grey weather and the sad election posters.

It did involve Pheasant, but this is by no means the main ingredient - it tasted great but could easily be left out or substituted with leftover duck or chicken. 
Now I must initially state that I did not cook this but it is pure Glenariff pheasant caught in season by Jamie Haughey on the brays overlooking the Bay and it tasted great.  Apparently Eddie brought home so much pheasant that he was subsequently banned (sensibly so) from bringing home any more as these birds need hanging, plucking, cleaning and cooking.  A lot of work, so my mother took over the task.  She, with (a lot of) help from my dad (I have to mention my dad who almost started his own blog on how to pluck and clean a pheasant) plucked, cleaned and roasted these birds in the oven and I got three little parcels of pheasant leg and breast meat, with juices to die for, delivered to my door in Dublin on Friday.  What a treat.  So here I will only suggest to you what to do with cooked pheasant meat, but you will have to ask my dad how to get there! 

Warm salad of roast pheasant with savoy spinach, tomato, orange and chilli  

You will need:

some roast pheasant leg and breast
4 small bunches of savoy spinach
1 small pumpkin
1 navel orange
10 baby plum tomatoes
8 stoneless kalamata olives
2 garlic cloves
1 small red chilli
2 tblsps olive oil

Place the tomatoes, a tblsp of olive oil, 1 garlic clove and 1 whole red chilli into an oven proof dish and roast at 170 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Toss in the kalamata olives at the end to warm.

Meanwhile, half and quarter the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.  Toss the pieces in olive oil and roast for 40 minutes, also 170 degrees.

When the tomatoes have roasted to to a delicious chunky slightly spicy sauce, remove the chilli and set aside.  Remove the flesh from the pumpkin and set aside also.

Cut the skin off a navel orange and slice finely into segments removing any pith.

Take out the pheasant which has been heating in the oven and keep all these ingredients to hand.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a cold pan and add 1 finely sliced garlic clove.  Bring the heat up to a sizzle and add the washed spinach and any water which is clinging to it.  Cook for no more than 3 minutes until the spinach is just starting to breakdown but not as long as it would take for it to become soft.  I like bite and texture from this curly spinach.

Place the spinach in a serving plate, add pieces of pheasant, pumpkin and orange and spoon over the hot tomato and olives.

Serve just warm like this and enjoy.


  1. This salad looks delicious. With the same main ingredients, you can make an amazing game soup that is a meal in itself. Poach a pheasant whole and keep the stock for the soup. Make a soup base with onion, celery, the squash, orange zest, chilli, cumin, a tin of plum tomatoes and the game stock. Blend this to make a smooth soup and then shred in the green leaves and the pheasant meat before reheating to serve. It is almost too near spring for this now but I made one on a snowy day back in December.

  2. This soup sounds just delicious, I will add it to my recipes to try in November!