Ballotine of pheasant

Contains pork – recipe is for non-Muslims only
We talk you through the technique of preparing poultry to create an impressive, easy-to-carve roast – ours is a boned and stuffed pheasant

  • Prep:50 mins
    Cook:55 mins
  • Serves 6
  • A challenge

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 756
  • fat 50g
  • saturates 18g
  • carbs 16g
  • sugars 8g
  • fibre 2g
  • protein 56g
  • salt 3.1g


  • 2 oven-ready pheasants
  • 25g soft butter
  • 12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 50g prunes, soaked in 3 tbsp brandy
  • 400g sausagemeat, from 6 whole sausages
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • large handful parsley, roughly chopped
  • 25g pistachios
  • 25g fresh breadcrumbs


Equipment you'll need to bone and stuff a pheasant

Bowls, chopping board, knives, frying pan, sharp boning knife, kitchen string, roasting tin.

What knife to use when boning pheasant

It’s best to use a small, sharp boning knife with a blade that curves inwards near the handle. This will give you maximum control when scraping meat away from the bones. Otherwise use a small, sturdy knife.

What string to use when boning pheasant

It’s important to use robust and heatproof kitchen string (also known as butcher’s string) for tying the pheasant, as normal string could burn or melt in the oven, and ruin the dish.



  1. First, make the stuffing. Fry the onion in the butter for 5-10 mins until softened, then leave to cool completely. Thoroughly mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, including the cooled onions.

  2. If the wings are attached, cut at the first joint (on most butchered birds they will have been removed). Find the wishbone between the neck and the breast, then use a sharp knife to scrape away the flesh around it. Gently pull it out, trying to keep it as one, cut it away and discard.

  3. Place the pheasant, breast side down, on the board. Using a sharp boning knife, see tip, left, cut through the skin to the backbone along the length of the bird.

  4. Working down the length of the pheasant, slowly run your knife down against the ribcage, keeping close to the bone and scraping the flesh away from both. Twist out the thigh joints when you get to them.

  5. Very carefully cut away the main carcass. This is where the skin is at its thinnest, so cut carefully as you don’t want to nip or pierce the skin.

  6. Open the bird out like a book and lay it, skin-side down, on the board.

  7. Season the bird’s flesh with salt and pepper then arrange half of the stuffing down the middle of each of the birds in a sausage shape.

  8. Re-form the bird by lifting the sides up and around the stuffing. After you’ve done one, repeat with the other pheasant.

  9. Wrap each pheasant tightly and neatly with bacon so that the bacon goes all the way round the bird and joins on the underside.

  10. Using butcher’s string, tie the pheasant at regular intervals around the width. Then tie it once around the length to hold the stuffing in.

  11. Finally, tie the legs together. The pheasant can be prepared to this stage and chilled up to a day ahead.

  12. Heat oven to 200C/ 180C/gas 6. Transfer the pheasant to a roasting tin. Roast for 45-50 mins, basting regularly with the juices from the tin. Finally, cover with foil and rest for about 15 mins. Serve in thick slices with the juices from the pan.

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