roast pheasant

prep time:  35 minutes
cook time:  60 minutes
servings:  6

3 pheasants - innards removed, wing tips and necks trimmed
1 onion - coarsely chopped
1 carrot - coarsely chopped
1 orange - halved
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 slices thick-cut bacon - cut in half
1/4 cup madeira
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter - cold

1.  preheat oven to 500 degrees and position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.  season the cavities and the outside of each pheasant liberally with salt and pepper.  divide the chopped onion and carrot equally among the cavities of the pheasants.  squeeze the juice form both halves of the orange and set aside.  cut 1 of the squeezed halves into 3 pieces and tuck inside the cavities along with the vegetables.  insert 1 sprig of thyme into the cavity.

2.  arrange the pheasants in a large roasting pan, breast sides up.  lay 2 strips of bacon over the top of each pheasant, butting the bacon into pieces if necessary to cover as much of the pheasant as possible.  roast for 15 minutes, then remove the bacon strips and continue roasting for approximately 30 - 40 minutes or until the juices run clear.  remove the pheasants from the oven and transfer to a serving platter; loosely tent.

3.  using a spoon, carefully remove excess fat from the pan.  place the roasting pan over high heat and when hot, deglaze with the reserved orange juice and madeira, using a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom. when the orange juice and madeira have reduced by half, add the chicken stock and continue to cook until sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 - 4 minutes.  swirl in the butter and remove from the heat.  season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.  remove the back bone from each pheasant, then cut along the breastbone to divide the birds into two halves.  service 1/2 pheasant per person, napped with some of the sauce.

- food nework

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