Before we start, we need to light a fire and let it burn down to a good bed of embers. Rake the embers out, leaving a little fire burning in the back third of the fire pit, so that we can generate more embers to cook over throughout the cooking process.
Making the meatballs
Next, we need to get a bowl and pour in the milk and breadcrumbs. Give them a good stir together, and set them aside so the breadcrumbs can absorb all the milk, and plump up a little.
In a large bowl, place the pheasant mince, pork mince, and a little salt and pepper.
Finely grate the lemon and garlic into the bowl of mince.
Add a pinch each of ground nutmeg and fennel seeds.
Crack in the egg, and give everything a good mix together. Try and be lighthanded – as the more we work the mince, the tougher the meatballs will be once they are cooked. If the meatball feels a little dry, then we can add a splash more milk, giving everything another quick mix together.
Cooking the meatballs
Place a skillet or heavy based frying pan onto the grill to begin warming up. Make sure the frying pan is big enough to hold all your meatballs (without crowding them).
Take small nuggets of the meatball mix, and roll between your hands to form bitesize meatballs. Keep doing this until all the mix is used up.
Place a little oil into your pre-heated pan, if the pan is hot enough, the oil should shimmer. If not, place the pan a little closer to the heat, before placing in your meatballs. It is a good idea to wear fire gloves when moving cast-iron pans around the grills.
Place the meatballs into the skillet, and allow them to brown gently in the pan. Be sure to only turn the meatballs when they have ‘released’ themselves from the bottom of the pan. Gently turn the meatballs in the pan, trying to get a good amount of colour on all sides.
Once the meatballs have taken on some colour, add the sage and rosemary sprigs into the pan. This will add loads of flavour to the meatballs, but can be easily removed if you don’t like the stronger taste of herbs.
Cooking the sauce
Once the meatballs have browned all over, it’s time to add in your tomato sauce or passata. It will splutter, and may spit a little, so be careful and allow it to settle before giving it all a stir together.
Move the skillet to the coolest part of the fire to allow the sauce to gently simmer. Cook the meatballs until they are cooked through – they should be about 71°C.
Scatter over the shredded mozzarella, and allow to melt. If you have a pair of long-handled tongs (and fire gloves), you could grab a smouldering log from the fire and use it to grill the cheese by holding it close to the surface of the pan.
Remove the pan from the fire, and place on something heatproof, allowing it to cool slightly before digging in (the mozzarella, in particular, will be like lava!).
Serve with a nice, crusty loaf of bread, on mash or polenta, spaghetti, or your favourite pasta.