Pheasant Veronique:

What do we cook to celebrate our wedding anniversary dinner? Something grand for just the two of us to be served on the terrace at twilight overlooking the River Murray, which is fast flowing past our rental accommodation right now.

The answer comes as we approach Mt Compass where we usually buy venison. But today, we notice a sign to a pheasant farm at Nankita a small village five kilometres away.

We travel along a pleasant undulating country road to Compass Pheasants, Marron and Deer Farm, where Frank Sipos, a wiry older fellow with a European accent, quickly sells us a leg of venison and a pheasant. It is the first pheasant I have ever bought and I ask for cooking instructions.

“Is it just like a chicken?’’ I ask.

However, Frank’s wife, Philippino-born, Elda, thrusts a recipe into our hands exclaiming that it is an authentic French recipe for pheasants.

Once at home, I see that the recipe is entitled Pheasant Veronique and I season and pepper the bird, cover the breasts with 2 fat bacon rashers and place it in a buttered roasting dish as instructed into a moderately heated oven.

However, the unique French flavour is in the sauce.

½ cup brandy; ½ cup cream; 1/3 cup Port, 250g seedless white grapes, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 4 spring onions finely chopped and watercress sprigs.

When bird is cooked (do not overcook), transfer it to a heated dish, cover with foil and stand in warm place.

Add spring onions to the roasting dish and sauté on top the stove for 2 mns. Stire in the brandy, add cream and boil for 2-3 mins until sauce is slightly thickened. Add the grapes and simmer gently for 2 mins whiloe you halve or quarter the pheasant and arrange on heated serving dish. Stir the port and lemon juice into the sauce and simmer until hot. Adjust seasoning and pour over pheasant. Garnish with watercress.

Elda says these are superb ingredients put together in the simplest way which produce this fabulous French dish which spells complete luxury.  Serve with potato balls and tiny Brussell sprouts or green beans.

PS:  Our French friend Dominique helped me with the sauce and it is smooth and tasty, but he says it needs some salt added.

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