Maggie Beer needs no introduction. She’s more than a cook, cookbook author, TV personality, former award winning restaurateur and Senior Australian of the Year 2010. Maggie Beer is the champion of her beloved Barossa Valley – its produce and its people. And she’s one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet.
I first met Maggie Beer at a cocktail party in Adelaide this week, as a guest of Tasting Australia. As we stood chatting about our (happy) mums, we danced in place with cocktail glasses in our hands, before hitting the dance floor together. Then, on my (best ever) birthday later in the week, I had the chance to visit Maggie Beer at her Nuriootpa farm shop, for a hands on cookery demonstration and lunch.
We started with Mushrooms Bruschetta with Vache Curd, and finished with Pear, Crème Fraîche & Walnut Crumble Tart with Vanilla & Elderflower ice cream. But what would lunch with Maggie Beer have been without the Pheasant Farm produce that started it all?
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons Juniper berries
Orange peel and juice of one orange
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablesppon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
250g butter, in pieces, cooked to nut brown
Mix thyme, juniper and orange peel with EVOO and marinate the pheasants for a few hours.
Heat the butter in a roasting pan that will comfortably accommodate the birds and seal carefully over moderate heat until lightly coloured. Cut the legs from the body and transfer all the pieces to a roasting pan, lying the breasts on one side. Roast at 180C for 5 minutes, turn the breasts over and cook for another 5 minutes, then take the legs out and cook a further 6 to 10 minutes with the breasts sitting upright. Remove and place in a warm baking dish, breast down, and drizzle with verjuice and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
In a small frying pan, heat the 250g butter and watch for the bubbles to subside; it will quickly change to a nutty colour. Remove from the heat, and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
To serve, remove the breasts from the pheasants by running a knife along the breastbone and severing the wing joints. Cut the drum sticks off and discard to make a stock later with bones, keeping the thighs. Put all the meat back into the oven to flash heat for a minute.
Serve the pheasant on a warm plate and drizzle with the nut brown butter. Place a generous spoonful of bread sauce on the side of the plate and add beetroot to the plate, garnish with parsley to serve. Our lunch was accompanied by Caramelised Fennel with Capers.
Best ever birthday? You betcha. Surrounded by Aussie food friends Helen Yee, Billy Law and Christina Soong-K the highlight of my Tasting Australia South Australian adventure had to be when Maggie Beer – with birthday cake and candle in hand – sang Happy Birthday to me! Does it get any better than that?
Maggie’s Farm Shop
End of Pheasant Farm Rd, Nuriootpa, South Australia, Australia
+61 (8) 8562 4477