11 NOVEMBER 1995, Page 73

And a pheasant in a pear tree LaiONLiftvit.-.

FIRST of all, I must clarify a point in last month's sweetbreads receipt which I did not mention. After the sweetbreads have cooked in the stock, bacon and vegetables, they should be removed and then sautéed. The stock etc. will be a valuable addition to a soup or a stew or even to a pasta sauce. Sorry about that. The appellation of St Denis or Montmorency to food seems to involve mushrooms, like Eggs St Denis in which eggs are scrambled and served in a border of mushroom risotto, rather good and comforting I should think, but the name comes from the suburb of Paris and is derived from the abbey founded by Dagobert I in the seventh century, on the spot where St Denis, the apostle of France, was interred. Anne de Montmorency gained a victory here in the battle between the Huguenots and Catholics on 10 November 1567. He has a bombe named after him containing vanilla ice-cream, kirsch mousse and preserved cherries.

I had my first pheasant yesterday, beau- tifully cooked by an admirable barrister aptly named Richard Fowler. He served it in the traditional roast way and managed to keep it moist and succulent and, of course, it was well hung, so it had a real flavour. This is another method for a change.

Pheasant with celery 1young, tender roasting pheasant

2 oz streaky salt pork or unsmoked bacon 3 oz butter 4 fluid oz dry white wine

1 large head of celery

2 tablespoons of olive oil

small glass of brandy, Armagnac or Calvados To cook the pheasant it is best to have an oval casserole in which the bird just fits. Melt 1 ounce of the butter in the pot, add the diced pork or bacon and start to sweat them. Work the second ounce of butter with a little salt and freshly ground pepper and place it within the pheasant. When the fat from the pork starts melting, put the bird in on its side and let it cook gently until golden brown, before turning it over and adding the heated wine. Let the wine bubble for a few seconds, then turn the heat down very low, cover the pot and cook gently for 40 to 45 minutes, turning the bird over at half time. Scrape the cleansed cel- ery (try to get some good celery with taste, usually the dirtier the better), removing the strings from the outer stalks, trim off the leaves and cut into 1/2- inch chunks. Melt the third ounce of but- ter and the olive oil in a large, heavy fry- ing-pan. Put in the celery and stir it around to coat with the fat, sprinkle a lit- tle salt over it, cover and let it simmer gently for ten minutes. Take a tablespoon of the juices from the bird and stir into the celery, then cook another five min- utes. Transfer to a fine, hot serving dish, large enough to hold the pheasant as well. Place the bird in the centre and, if convenient, carve for serving at this stage. Surround with the little bits of pork or bacon. Keep the dish warm and covered while you reduce the juices in the pot by boiling rapidly for a minute or two. Add the brandy or whatever and cook a minute longer. Transfer to a hot sauce- boat and serve with the pheasant. Celery goes very well with game birds, and this makes a handsome dish needing but a few little potatoes to accompany it.

A suitable pudding to follow the pheas- ant, and suitable for this time of year when the conference pears abound, is Pears baked in their skins Choose pears with yellow or brown skins and reckon on two pears per person. Leave their stalks on and place in a casserole. Add enough red wine and water in equal quantities and in sufficient amounts to fill the casserole half-way up its side. If the pears are very hard and unripe, add a tablespoon of sugar per pound of pears. Cover the pan and cook in a pre-heated oven at Gas 2, 300F, 150C, for about 11/2 hours. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes. When the pears are soft and the skins are looking wrinkled, remove them with a slotted spoon from the casserole onto a plate. Heat the juices from the pears on top of the stove until they become syrupy when reduced. Arrange the pears upright in some pretty dish or bowl and when the syrup is cool enough pour it over them. Chill in the refrigerator and just before serving strew the pears with a little icing-sugar. Unlike baked apples, the skins of the pears should be eaten. They give the fruit a splendid flavour and a beautiful appearance. You might like to serve great dollops of cream, but the pure of heart will eat them just as they are.

Jennifer Paterson