To the tune of “We’re gonna have roast wabbit” by Bugs Bunny
An annual hunting trip by Grandpa George and John, brought back many pheasant, a la Elmer Fudd.
I personally am not a fan of hunting but am a fan of eating (including meat), so perhaps I am a hypocrite?
Well, I guess that might be true.
Between the two of them, a few birds made their way back to their freezers.
By way of Easter weekend in Arizona, with Mom and John (plus a lovely evening on the side with Dad and Linda), Tom and I were the lucky recipient of a home-cooked pheasant dinner.
I love poultry, but am, admittedly, not an expert in the way of cooking pheasant. I can put out a tasty meal involving quail and have been known to cook squab, now and again. I often roast chicken but prefer grilling a split, poussin under a brick. Duck is something I also roast; usually just the legs, the breast takes on a quick sear followed by about 7 minutes in the pan. I have tackled cornish hen, but not for a while, yet I should consider doing this more often. I have never actually cooked a Christmas goose and to my recollection have never eaten pheasant, let alone roasted one.
So when my Mom suggested we prepare pheasant for dinner the night after we arrived in Arizona, I was… slightly skeptical.
I had visions of a gamey, tough bird that was akin to the wild duck we used to eat after Grandpa’s duck hunting trips when I was young (absolutely no offense meant, but at the time, I was not the biggest fan of those meals).
I left the preparation of the pheasant in my Mom’s capable hands, who in turn, looked to inspiration from her Grandma.
The kitchen smells were mesmerizing as the pheasant roasted and as we sat down to the table (outside, in the warm, dry air looking at the beautiful, mountainous sky), I became a fan of pheasant!
The pheasant was dripping in moisture and bathed in succulent flavor. The wild rice provided a toothy texture to the silken meat and the cranberry sauce was a happy splash of cool refreshing fruit, even though it still resembled the can it came from; you can take the girl from Alaska but you can’t take Alaska out of the girl (I’m talking about you Mom).
…and so, with that, I give you, Roast Pheasant, in my Mom’s words:
Roasted Wild Pheasant by Patricia (AKA Mom)
“Because my grandma cooked wild birds this way, I wouldn’t mess with tradition or success; however there are a few slight embellishments. Note that our birds were skinned so I had to be careful not to dry them out.
Check carefully for any remaining b-b shots and soak a little while in salt water.
Place a carrot, quarter of an onion, and a quarter of an apple in the belly and place birds breast side up in a roasting pan.
Splash a little cherry balsamic on top then completely cover the birds with bacon strips. Add a little red wine to the pan.
Cook at 400-degrees for 10 minutes then cover and reduce heat to 300. Cook about 1.5 to 2 hours till tender.
Serve with a wild rice pilaf and cranberry sauce.
In my quest to use up leftovers I made the following and it was yummy:
Dice leftover pheasant meat and place in a mixing bowl (I had about a cup of meat).
Add the following:
3 T diced sweet onion
1 small apple diced (or about 1/2 c sliced grapes or 1/4 c dried cranberries)
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped nuts 1/2 tsp curry mixed into about 1/2 cup mayo
Mix all ingredients and use enough mayo to make the mixture moist and creamy.
Serve on sweet crackers (Rain Coast or Trader Joes’) as an appetizer, on greens as a salad, or in a sandwich”.
…now back to me (Stacey):
After our dinner, there were a few leftovers.
Leftover wild rice pilaf, leftover green beans and leftover pheasant, not to mention the bones from which the pheasant came, still sporting a bit of meat.
I did what any respectable person would do; I made soup.
The roasting pan was still pretty full of liquid to which I added a little more water. I removed any remaining bits of meat from the bones and tossed them into the pot as I tossed the bones into the trash.
I removed the apple, carrots and onion from the pot and chopped them, returning them back to the pot in a smaller form. I then dumped in the remaining rice, the left over green beans I had prepared for dinner (after dicing them) along with some chopped celery and a few diced tomatoes.
I splashed in some cherry balsamic vinegar, squeezed in the juice of one lemon (from the tree outside), sprinkled in some kosher salt + ground pepper and set the pot to simmer for a few hours as we cleaned up and finished our wine.
We didn’t eat the soup the next day, because it was Easter, but Tom and I downed a quick cup of the soup before heading to the airport the next day. We were quite pleased with the results.
John sent us away with one pheasant to cook back home (luck, lucky, lucky us). So I decided to try and recreate our meal (minus the cranberry can, green beans and warm, dry weather).
Here are my notes to Mom’s above:
What she said, (+)plus, my two cents:
I used 1 cup red wine.
I used a whole apple plus a half.
I did not put them in the belly but just wherever they fit (which goes for the onion and carrot too). 20 minutes at 400-degrees because I had thicker bacon wrapped around than Mom and wanted to get it to brown a bit before turning the oven down.
Pomegranate molasses plus regular balsamic vinegar stood in for the cherry balsamic vinegar. I also added 1 TB Dijon mustard.
To serve: I cut the meat away from the bone and laid it on top of the wild rice.
The wild rice was cooked in a rice maker.
To the rice, I added 1 stalk chopped celery, 1/4 finely diced apple, a handful of chopped, raw almonds.
I also added about 10 chopped, cooked crimini mushrooms.
The drippings in the pan are lovely ladled over top of the bird.
Looney Tunes content copyright Warner Bros Studios, thanks for the memories!