Part 1 dealt with the social misconceptions associated with hunting game and the lack of connection between animal sacrifice and the meat we eat, so we don’t need to bother with that here. Now it's straight into the prep and the cooking.

Like game mammals, the majority of game birds are very lean and can be at risk of becoming dry during the cooking process. Dry is not good. The flavor is best when the meat is still moist, and as a result, it's not usually a good idea to roast game birds in the traditional manner. This pot roast recipe will ensure the meat stays moist and tender, and the finishing sauce is so simple that you’ll be trying it with everything.

*One thing to note: I wouldn’t recommend this recipe for water fowl. They tend to have a higher fat content, so you could get away with a much dryer cooking process.

Before we start cooking, we need to get to grips with the bird itself, in this case a pheasant. You have two options for killing the bird, really: 1) you could use a low-powered rifle (if you’re quiet enough) and stalk the bird while it is still on the ground, or 2) you could use a shotgun and shoot the bird in flight. The former is surprisingly challenging, which is why the latter would be my recommendation.

Once you have your bird, you need to get it ready for the pot; however, there is one step I recommend you do first...and that is to do nothing. Game birds have a very delicate flavor, and you can enhance this by hanging the bird before you eat it. Hanging it means just that—hanging it up in a cool, dry place for one to two weeks in order to let the flavors mature. I usually go for about 10 days. After hanging, it's time to pluck. The easiest way to do this is to sit the bird in your lap with its head facing into your groin (stop laughing) and start plucking by grabbing the feathers and pulling them away from you (with the grain), so to speak. Once you’ve plucked the bird, you need to remove the head at the base of the neck and the legs at the knee joint.

The next step is the one that separates the men from the boys. At the base of the breast meat (at the leg-end of the bird), make a cut into the fleshy area underneath the rib cage. Then, pull the breast of the bird up to tear a hole a couple of inches wide. Now get your fingers in, and drag out the giblets. There is no clean way to do this, so just get in there! Once you’ve got them out, you want to thoroughly wash the bird inside and out before cooking.

Now to cook the bird:

  1. Get a large casserole pot with a lid and put it on a low heat.
  2. Add about 1/4 inch of boiling water to the bottom of the pot and put the bird in, breast-side up.
  3. Put the lid on the pot and leave it on the stovetop for 45 minutes. Keep checking it every 15 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t boil dry.
  4. That’s it—pot roasting really is that simple.
  5. Take the pheasant out of the pan and empty out the water. Wrap the bird in foil and let it rest and relax for a bit. This is important in order to keep the bird moist. (Stop laughing, I won't tell you again).

And for the sauce:

As if hunting, shooting, plucking, and cooking your own food wasn’t the epitome of alpha male manliness, we're going to step it up even further by adding whiskey to the equation! The whiskey you use is important—it wants to be a good quality single malt, not some cheap generic scotch. My preference is for Laphroaig due to its smooth, smoked peat flavors. However, more subtle malts also work well. You will need two 40ml measures—one for the pot and one for you. Hey, you’ve done well so far and deserve a reward!

You’ll be left with some cooking juices and fat on the bottom of the pan once you’ve emptied the water out. (This is good as there is a lot of flavor here).

  1. Put the pan onto medium heat and add the whiskey. Make sure you stand back—if the pan is hot enough the whiskey will catch fire. We want this in order to burn off the alcohol, so if it doesn’t catch right away, set alight to it with a match. (At this stage, the whiskey you took for yourself will be giving you that nice, warm whiskey hug, so you won't notice that you’ve just singed all the hairs on your forearm).
  2. Once the whiskey has burned out and the liquid in the pan has reduced by half, add a good teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and about 100ml of single cream, stirring continuously.
  3. Once the sauce is almost boiling, take it off the heat.
  4. Cut the meat from the bird and toss it through the sauce.
  5. Serve with whatever takes your fancy—I’d go for roasted potatoes and spring greens. Enjoy.

Note: This sauce is especially awesome with the rabbit in part 1, as well as with pork and chicken.