Squab chickens, small squabs or small rock Cornish game hens may be substituted for baby pheasants.
If using frozen birds, defrost in advance. Clean and dry four small birds, cutting off wingtips and tail pieces. Rub with cut lemon inside and out. Tie up each bird with a thin piece of fresh or salt pork fat, split to fit over the breastbone. Now coarsely chop a peeled carrot, a stalk of celery and an onion. Brown the trussed-up birds in a sauteuse (see photograph) or heavy pan that can be used both on top of the stove and in the oven, using four teaspoons of butter to start the browning. When browned, remove birds and brown the vegetables in the same pan, adding sprinkles of salt and pepper, a pinch of thyme and two bay leaves. Get the vegetable pieces very brown; do not be afraid of burning them.
Put the birds on top of the vegetables in the pan and place in a preheated 400� oven. Cook for half an hour. Take the pan out of the oven, cutting off the strings and removing the birds. Keep them warm in a covered serving dish or casserole (such as a deep enameled iron dish with lid) while making sauce. To do this, stir 2 tablespoons of flour into the vegetables and juices in the pan; cook gently for a few minutes; add 1� cups of strong, heated consomm�,� cup red wine, 1 tablespoon brandy and either 1 teaspoon meat glaze or two bouillon cubes. Turn up the heat very high to boil the whole fiercely for five minutes; then strain directly over the birds in the serving dish. Place a slice of p�t� de foie gras on each bird, if desired. Cover again and reheat, serving very hot.