pheasant and cacao casserole – serves 4

2 pheasants
20g butter
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots
2 sticks celery
1 large garlic clove
2 rashers streaky bacon
500ml red wine
300ml chicken stock
3 juniper berries
1 clove
2 bay leaves
3 black peppercorns
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
Small piece orange peel or ½ papaya, de-seeded and chopped
10g cacao, grated

Preheat the oven to 175ºC

Cut each pheasant into 4 pieces. Melt the butter in a casserole dish and brown the pheasant pieces lightly. Remove the pheasant and add the chopped onions and soften for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Chop the carrots, celery, garlic and bacon, then add to the casserole and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add a good splash of wine to deglaze the casserole, scraping up any bits stuck on the base.
Return the pheasant to the casserole along with the remainder of the wine and the chicken stock. Heat through, then add the juniper berries, clove, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and orange peel or papaya.
Put the lid on and transfer to the oven for about 1¼ hours, or until the meat is cooked.
If you prefer an even richer, thicker sauce, pour off half the liquid into another pan and reduce briskly before returning to the casserole dish.
Lastly add the grated cacao, stirring in thoroughly, tasting as you go.