225 g (8 oz) carrots
100 g (4 oz) leeks
2 x 800 g (1 3/4 lb) oven ready pheasants
salt and freshly milled white pepper
juice of 1 lemon
8 thin, rindless rashers streaky bacon
150 ml (1/4 pint) game stock
150 ml (1/4 pint) soured cream
150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
5 tablespoons cranberry sauce
1. Trim or peel and wash the carrots and leeks and cut them into thin slices. Rub the pheasant inside with salt and pepper and sprinkle outside with lemon juice.
2. To truss the pheasant: thread a trussing needle with cooking thread and take it through both wings, then through the legs and tie firmly so that the legs and wings lie close to the breast. Cover the back, breast and legs of each pheasant with 1 rasher of bacon each and secure in place with thread.
3. Place the pheasant on their sides in a roasting tin. Wash the livers and keep them to one side. Roast the pheasant on the second shelf from the bottom of a hot oven (220°C, 425°F, gas 7) for 40-50 minutes.
4. Heat the stock and add it to the tin with the vegetables after the first 10 minutes of the cooking time. Baste the pheasant every 10 minutes, adding a little hot water each time, and turning on to the other side each time, before finally turning the pheasant breast uppermost.
5. About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the bacon and return the pheasant to the tin. Coat the pheasant in soured cream
(keeping 1 tablespoon in reserve) and brown well.
6. After 40 minutes, test to see if the pheasant are cooked: if the meat springs back into shape when pressed with your finger it is cooked but still pink and juicy inside.
7. Transfer the pheasant to a warm plate, turn off the oven and leave the meat to stand in the oven for 15 minutes with the door slightly ajar. Add the bacon to the plate with the pheasant. Remove the trussing thread.
8. Dilute the roasting juices with little hot water, strain into a saucepan, reserving the vegetables to serve with the pheasant, and stir in the wine. If you have the pheasant livers, chop them into small pieces, crush with a fork and stir into the sauce, cook for a few minutes, then stir in the remaining soured cream. Season the sauce liberally with salt and pepper and serve separately with the pheasant.
9. Serve with cranberry sauce.