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Pheasant in Green Pipian Sauce

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2 oven-ready pheasants
30ml/2 tbsp corn oil
175g/6oz/1 generous cup pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seeds)
15ml/1 tbsp achiote (annatto) seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
275g/10oz can tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes)
475ml/16fl oz/2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh coriander, to garnish


Serves: 4


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Using a large sharp knife or poultry shears, cut the pheasants in half lengthways and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the pieces until lightly brown on all sides. Lift out, drain and arrange, skin-side up, in a roasting tin large enough to hold them comfortably in one layer. Set aside.

Grind the pepitas finely in a nut grinder or a food processor. Shake through a sieve into a bowl. Grind the achiote seeds and add them to the bowl and set to one side.

Put the onion, garlic, tomatillos and their juice into a food processor and purée. Put in a saucepan.

Add the pepita mixture, stir in the stock and simmer over a very low heat for 10 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil as it will separate. Cool.

Pour over the pheasant halves. Bake for 40 minutes, basting from time to time with the sauce, or until tender.

Garnish with coriander.

Cook’s Tip

Achiote is a typical ingredient in Yucatán. It adds a subtle flavour and an orange-red colour. There is no substitute. Look for it in Caribbean and tropical markets.

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