Gary Mehigan's streaky bacon and thyme flavoured pheasant is paired with a mixed mushroom stock, creamy mashed potato and garlic herb cabbage balls.
Preheat one oven to 140°C fan forced and another to 200°C fan forced.
For the Pheasant, remove the legs from the crown, retaining as much skin on the crown as possible. Overlap half the streaky bacon on a chopping board and lift onto pheasant crown in one piece. Use twine to truss pheasant crown to secure the bacon in place. Repeat with the remaining bacon and pheasant. Set aside at room temperature.
For the Mushroom Stock, place a large saucepan over high heat and warm the olive oil. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the fresh mushrooms, dehydrated mushrooms and porcini mushrooms to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes or until dark golden. Deglaze the saucepan with brandy, madeira and port. Add the soy sauce and stock, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Remove the lid, add pheasant leg and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until stock has reduced and thickened.
For the Mashed Potato, place potatoes on an oven tray of rock salt and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.
For the Mushroom Stock, remove pheasant legs from the stock. Pull meat off the bone and finely dice. Strain stock through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan, pushing down on the mushrooms to extract as much stock as possible. Continue to simmer and reduce to a syrupy consistency.
For the Pheasant, place both trussed pheasant crowns in a large ovenproof frypan and roast at 200°C for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 56°C.
For the Mashed Potato, cut the cooked potato in half and place cut side down onto a fine drum sieve positioned over a sheet of baking paper. Whilst hot, use a pastry card to gently press potato through the drum sieve, discarding the potato skins.
In a small saucepan, warm milk. Add warm milk and half the diced butter to the potato. Whisk by hand, gradually adding the remaining butter until all is smooth and well combined. Season generously with salt and pepper. Set mashed potato aside in a warm place until ready to serve.
For the Cabbage Balls, half fill a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Very carefully peel the green outer leaves off the cabbage without damaging. Trim the thick central vein. Finely shred the inside leaves of the cabbage and place in a colander. Lightly salt the cabbage, toss and set aside over a large bowl at room temperature for 10 minutes to drain the excess water.
Meanwhile, blanch the outer cabbage leaves for 1 minute or until softened. Refresh cabbage in iced water, drain and set aside on paper towel. Pat the blanched cabbage leaves dry with more paper towel.
In a large saucepan, combine the butter, carrot, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add the shredded cabbage and cook for 2-3 minutes or until wilted. Remove saucepan from the heat and set aside at room temperature until cool enough to handle.
One at a time, place a blanched cabbage leaf onto a clean damp towel. Place 2 tablespoons of filling into the centre of each blanched leaf and twist the gathered edges to tightly seal filling inside. Remove the towel, trim twisted end and wrap each cabbage ball tightly in plastic wrap. Reshape to round if needed. Repeat to make 4 pieces in total. Set aside at room temperature.
For the Pheasant, remove the trussing and the bacon. Remove each breast from the crown.
Place a large non-stick frypan over high heat and warm the extra virgin olive oil. Add the pheasant breasts and cook, skin side down for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the butter and thyme leaves and baste for 1 minute or until the skin is lightly golden. Flip and cook for a further minute if liked.
Remove pheasant from the frypan and transfer to a plate, skin side up. Finely grate a generous layer of truffle over each breast and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
For the Cabbage Balls, remove the plastic wrap and place parcels in a steamer basket set over a saucepan of simmering water. Steam for 3 minutes. Remove steamer basket from the saucepan of water.
Place 1 Pheasant breast, 1 Cabbage Ball and a quenelle of Mashed Potato on each plate.
For the Mushroom Stock, place the cream in a medium mixing bowl and whisk by hand to soft peaks. Bring the reduced sauce to the boil. Remove saucepan from the heat, add cream and briefly fold through to achieve a marbled look. Spoon the sauce around other elements on the serving plate.