Saturday, 31 January 2009

Shop locally

As we were showing the new Chief Exec of Sefton MBC around Birkdale(more of which later) I was pointing out how good many of the shops in Birkdale are. I have referred to Robert Tear's excellent Butcher's shop before but as we looked at the village, as it were with fresh eyes, we are fortunate to have such a wide range of shops locally.
It is always invidious picking one out from a range of shops but I was thinking that Paul Halliday's Fishmongers shop that also sells game and poultry is a gem.
I am told that there are some blogs by a certain type of politician which studiously avoid the import issues that face us; the economy, the environment and the fraught state of international affairs and instead publish recipes. I am disdainful of this approach. I suspect it is all an attempt to be seen in 'soft focus' and persuade folk that you are essentially a nice person-which I don't doubt they are. I guess they are the type of politician who considers it gross bad manners to be asked a tough question. It is not that I expect a learned dissertation on endogenous growth theory in every posting but just that I came away with the belief that if they were called upon to make important decisions on economic policy or foreign affairs they would know what they are talking about.
Nevertheless as I have had my leg pulled about the absence of recipes from this blog I undertook to produce one. As I was pointing out the Birkdale Fishmonger to the new CEO I noticed the blackboard outside which advertised a brace of pheasants for £6.89p-significantly less than the price at Tesco and Waitrose last time I looked.
So what to do with a pheasant? At this time of year they tend to be a little tough and frankly after Christmas it is best to casserole them rather than simply roast them. A brace of pheasant's will give you a hearty meal for four or an adequate one for six. First you need to joint(two legs two breasts each) which with a sharp knife is remarkably simple and very satisfying.
Season them with salt and pepper and fry them in butter and oil-you'll need about 40g of butter and a couple of tablespoons of oil-until they are golden brown. Transfer them to a large shallow flameproof casserole. Next peel a dozen or so shallots and fry them in the oil and butter after 3 or 4 minutes move then to a plate Next you need about 12ozs of those little cubes of bacon that most supermarkets stock, fry them in the fat until brown and keep them to one side with the shallots. Then you need to peel and chop 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, get handful of fresh thyme and a couple of bay leaves and add them to the pot. You need to add some fluid then: 10 fluid oz of stock and the same of Madeira. You really need the driest Madeira you can get your hands on which comes from the sercial grape. You can use dry sherry instead but don't substitute the sickly sweet stuff that some folk glug into their trifle.
Now bring the lot gently to the boil, fit a tight lid and leave it to simmer for about and hour on the hob. Then add half a pound of small whole mushrooms and the bacon and shallots and put it back on the simmer for 45mins or so until the birds are tender.
Finally take everything out of the casserole except the fluid and put it on a plate in a warm oven, make a smooth paste of 40g of soft butter and 40g of plain flour and whisk it into the fluid to thicken the sauce, pour over the rest of the dish and serve.