Main course

Salmis de faisan

The style of cooking known as salmi is positively ages old. When the grandaddy of French cooking Auguste Escoffier described it in his 1903 Le Guide Culinare, even he said it was:

“… bequeathed to us by the old classical kitchen.”

Reading Le Guide Culinaire, and digging around the history of salmis reveals some possible misconceptions that have done the dish a colossal disservice.

Salmis is prepared by undercooking a roast meat and reheating it in an enriched sauce. Cooking game birds in this manner means that they remain moist from wing to table – game birds can be notoriously dry if not cooked with care. However, some food writers have stated that salmis was originally a means of using up leftover roast game – but that would involve fully cooking the bird before introducing it into the sauce. This technique is lambasted by Escoffier, who writes:

“… its method of preparation has been ruined without discernment by applying it to game already cooked and then reheated …”

This would indicate that salmis was originally prepared with undercooked meat, and later adapted to leftovers. With the leftovers being dry and nasty, salmis was consigned to the compost pile of recipes with no merit.

Support for our history of salmis can be found in The Oxford English Dictionary where the entry for ‘salmis’ states that the first written reference to the dish is in the 1759 book Complete System of Cookery by English innkeeper William Verral. In that book, the recipe for ‘salmis des becasses’ (woodcock) is absolutely clear that the birds are half roasted. So The Nosey Chef thinks we (and Escoffier) are right when we say that the original salmis method uses part-cooked birds, and that a string of chefs wrecked reputation of the dish by stewing off leftovers.

Escoffier writes about salmis with a degree of glee. He states that if the original method is used, then the result is one of the most luxurious and delightful ways to enjoy game. For that reason, we feel the need to get this technique solidly under our belts and resurrect it for the autumn Sunday table.

Our copy of Le Guide Culinaire

The original salmis de faisan (pheasant) that Escoffier describes uses an espagnole, stock and meat glaze all made from game. That can be quite tricky to do as you need biblical quantities of game carcasses to do it, so we put in a bit of a cheat and used chicken-based sauces (guinea fowl is a wild chicken, after all). You will need to plan ahead as an espagnole (see our page on mother sauces) takes a long time to make. Glazes can also be a problem until you realise that they are absolutely no different from the stuff inside a Knorr stock pot (i.e. a hyper-reduced stock), so just use one of those instead of simmering down a Land Rover-full of pheasants for two days.

Salmis de faisan

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By The Nosey Chef Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • For the roast:
  • 2 pheasant
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 2 cloves of garlic, cracked with the back of a knife
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • For the salmis:
  • 2 Knorr chicken stock pots (or game glaze; see notes)
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 250ml white wine
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 300ml pheasant stock (see notes)
  • 300ml pheasant-based espagnole (see notes)
  • 25g butter
  • To garnish:
  • 12 button mushrooms
  • Fresh black truffle, finely sliced (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Set an oven to 240˚C.


Smother the birds with the butter, squeeze over the lemon and season liberally. Push the spent lemon halves, garlic and thyme into the cavities. Roast for 10 mins. Decrease the oven temperature to 190˚C and roast for another 7 mins. Remove the birds from the oven, and get them on a chopping board nice and quickly. Joint them into legs, wings and breasts, slicing the jointed breasts lengthways once off the bird. Discard the lemons. Skin the joints with your hands (tricky for the wings, if they are still on the animal) and discard the skin.


Melt the chicken stock pots in a sauté pan. Add the brandy and flame it. Once the flames are out, paint the bird joints with the glaze, cover and keep warm. It is essential that these joints are kept warm, but that the cooking is not advanced by one iota. Either use the absolute lowest setting on your hob or place in an oven at no more than 60˚C.


Heat the wine and shallot in a large pan and season with a little pepper. Break up the bird carcasses and push them down into the wine. Almost completely reduce the wine.


Add the stock and espagnole to the wine and carcasses and cook on medium for 10 minutes. Once done, put the whole lot in a chinois and pass the sauce through the mesh, discarding the solids that won't go through.


Reduce the passed sauce by a third, skimming off any impurities. Stir in the butter.


While the sauce is reducing, quickly cook the mushrooms in a little butter and pepper.


To finish the dish, put the jointed meat in the sauce with the mushrooms (and truffle if using) and cook until the joints are done (about 5–10 mins; use a meat probe to ensure you have 75˚C in the centre of the thighs and breasts and take care not to over-do them).


If preparing one bird or doing a pheasant, then reduce the stock and espagnole quantities by about half. There are a bunch of ways of getting round the game stock/glaze problem. One is to buy game stock. Another is to use the carcasses from a previous meal to enrich a chicken stock. The final method is to just use chicken. Of course if you happen to have homemade game stock in the freezer (and I am odd like that), then obviously use that.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Brigyt Demas,
    21/04/2020 at 6:58 pm

    You can delivery?,I never be in Tel Aviv before
    I born with,eggs,rice bean,pork ,fish ,seafood,corn ,yuka tunas,salmon and tomatoes,allergy
    You can cook,without carrots the faisan?,I having foods seriously allergy,only faisan,and frog legs allowed eating,

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