Pheasant, upclose and delicious

The other day the door knocked. Outside was a neighbour, he said they are off on a surprise trip, would I like a couple of pheasants? He was worried they might go off and didn’t want them to go to waste. I was delighted and a bit apprehensive at the same time as I was presented with two whole birds. They had been hung already for four days and could hang for up to another three days but he wasn’t sure they would be back by then.

 

The pheasants were beautiful and I couldn’t resist saying yes and I do love game. My apprehension came from the fact that I have never plucked and gutted a bird before. I accepted the birds, it was a very thoughtful gift and the greenhouse had a different addition overnight as I didn’t have time to do anything with them on the day.

 

29Nov_Phesants

 

The feathers were beautiful. 29Nov_Feathers

 

I thought about the birds and mentally postponed taking care of them. I even stood in the window looking in to the greenhouse thinking about it before, in the end,

I decided to actually give it a go. I like to cook and eat game and this was an opportunity to “get real” with the food and the origin. I did what I believe any sensible person would do and looked up three online videos, two of them skinned the bird and only one plucked it. The thought of crispy skin is always alluring so I thought I would give it a go and pluck the feathers.

 

The whole work bench was covered in newspapers, I had two bags on standby for feathers and guts. I won’t go in to details how it is done, just search and you will get some excellent tutorials, written as well a video.

When I started to pluck the first pheasant I realised how soft the feathers are, it is just amazing.

 

29Nov_Plucked Phesant

 

The whole process was less gruesome than I thought but there is no denying no matter how careful I was I ripped the skin in places and feathers, light as air, flew around the kitchen. I have to say that there were no feathers floating in the air on the video or perhaps I just didn’t see it, it looked amazingly neat.

 

29Nov_FeatherMess

 

In the end I stopped worrying about the feathers and decided to vacuum clean afterwards, most of the feathers did end up in the bag. I did save some feathers with the most beautiful patterns for a neighbour, who is an artist.

 

After quite some time the birds were finally plucked and gutted, it wasn’t a quick thing, I think it took me about two hours. I cut off the legs and placed them in a cure, more about them in an upcoming blog. I kept the breast meat on the crown and pan fried them before placing them in the oven at 190C or 375F for what I meant to be 15 minutes.

 

29Nov_BrownedPhesant

 

Towards the end I put my head down and 18 minutes passed so the birds were ever so slightly overcooked. They were still just pink and very moist so I was lucky. I rested the meat for 10 minutes before taking the breast off the bone and slicing them.

 

There are a lot of recipes with pheasant and whilst the birds were cooking I did a very quick sauce to go with the meat. You can reduce it further and cook it for longer but it had a lot of flavour and was delicious. I used both butter and cream, the pheasant meat is quite lean and with such great produce I had to make something a little bit more luxurious.

 

Thyme and raspberry vinegar sauce

preparation time 5 minutes 

cooking time 13 minutes 

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 shallot onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 dl chicken gravy
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • a pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 knob of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop the shallot and peeled garlic cloves fine. Melt butter in a pan and gently fry the onions soft.

 

29Nov_Onions

 

Add the soy sauce, the Shaoxing rice wine and the raspberry vinegar, thyme and bring to a boil and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce by an approx. a third. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed and last add the cream. The cream thickened the sauce slightly and I didn’t add any more thickening agent.

 

I sliced the meat and served it with a crunchy salad with a dressing with raspberry vinegar and the sauce. I wanted this to be a light meal so I skipped the starch but a rice salad would have been great to make a more filling meal.

 

29Nov_PhesantDinner

 

Plucking and gutting the pheasants did make me feel that I had actually got closer to the food and if anything it gave me a greater appreciation for the animal and the work that goes in to preparing them.

 

I am bringing this to Angie’s, The Novice Gardener, party Fiesta Friday. This is the perfect party for anyone who loves food so come and join us!

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
21 Responses to “Pheasant, upclose and delicious”
  1. Angie says:

    I was just talking to a co-worker about pheasants yesterday. Her husband hunts and she promised to share the birds with me. Can’t wait! Though I would prefer if she would give them to me already dressed. She said they’re more white meat than dark, unlike quails or ducks. So I imagine they’re more like chicken?

    • petra08 says:

      Hi Angie they are and the breasts are quite large! Doing the guys was quite hmm earthy I have to admit! But I have to say I am glad I did it and we really enjoyed them! There is quite a lot of meat on them as well! It is a treat 🙂 x

  2. I grew up eating pheasant, and your dish is just gorgeous. I must admin that my brother shot and cleaned them. Congratulations on your new knowledge!

    • petra08 says:

      hi Julie
      I wished I had a brother when they needed gutting! But like you said I am glad I did it and it was so worth it in the end 🙂 Am glad you like it!
      I hope you are having a good weekend! 🙂

  3. Loretta says:

    Absolutely impressed Petra, wow! Pheasant to me would be a real delicacy, and you’ve mastered it to a T! I grew up with fresh hens, I mean literally they would be running around, then picked. I remember our cook in Kenya would submerge the entire bird in boiling water, this ensured that all the feathers would be removed, they came off quite easily. I’m not sure that I could go through that entire process though, it would upset me. Fortunately yours was half way there and you didn’t have to kill the bird. Bravo! 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      Hi Loretta
      Despite my bravado actually killing the bird might have been one step too far! ha ha
      I was quite pleased with myself in the end and I guess if I would ever get any more birds I would get a bit faster! Next time I might just skin them and cover them with bacon! 🙂
      Happy weekend! 🙂

  4. I too am impressed Petra as I want my pheasants ready to go – no plucking for me. My husband use to go on controlled hunts and they had the birds already to cook. Sounds delicious though as I have not had pheasant in some time 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      hi Juju
      I have to admit I prefer any birds to go! 🙂 But saying that I am glad I did it, it was a whole experience and they tasted great! I have had Pheasant before but not very often so it really was a treat! 🙂

  5. I haven’t had pheasants in so long! You did a beautiful job here 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      hi Sarah
      Thank you! I am so glad you like it! I did find it a little gruesome pulling the guts out but it was rewarded when the pheasants were cooked 🙂

  6. Yummy this sounds delicious! Pheasant is such a delicious meat when it is done properly!!

    • petra08 says:

      hi Stef
      Thank you!
      I just spoke to someone who said they had the most disgusting pheasant ever, it was apparently overcooked by about 25 minutes! or that was their estimate!
      This was great, the additional and unintentional 3 more minutes didn’t have an impact (phew), I was very relieved I have to admit! 🙂
      have a great weekend!

  7. I adore pheasant but haven’t had it in years. Lucky you. I just met someone yesterday who said her husband hunts I am hoping she will share.

    Great dish to bring to FF.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Liz
      Oh I hope she does, I would love to see what you would do! The taste of game is quite mild but it still sets it aside in a nice way. Happy FF and I hope you are enjoying your weekend 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing this experience. What a cool neighbor! I have never plucked a bird before but my husband and our friend did it once and they found the experience unappetizing. I think it takes a few times to get confident and normalized. I would like to try one day and you can bet I would check out YouTube prior to plucking too.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Genie

      The feathers are amazingly soft and some of them were so beautiful. I didn’t mind the plucking but the gutting, but I thought, with the opportunity, I should do it if I want to eat it. I would do it again, like you said you said I think if yo do it a few times it is fine! My neighbour did offer quails and I might take them up on it! The meat was delicious so all well worth it!
      I am so lucky and have the best neighbours, they so so great 🙂
      Have a lovely week!

  9. Wow Petra, impressive accomplishment! I hung on your every word describing the plucking process. How serendipitous for Angie to get a tutorial in case her pheasants are delivered in their feathery finery! Great sauce to pair them with. Thank you for taking this to FF.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Johanne

      You make me smile! I have to admit I had to think of the pheasants as food and keep focused on that (instead of cute birds) and it worked! Let’s see what Angie gets 🙂 I am so glad you read and liked the post! I wasn’t sure how it would go down, phew!
      have a lovely week!

      • Hope you saved the long feathers. They cost a fortune! I use mine all the time in various floral arragements

      • petra08 says:

        I saved some of them and some that were quite long. How clever to use them in floral arrangement, I will save more of them next time for sure! I gave all the ones I saved to my neighbour who was very happy 🙂 Next time I will keep some for myself, what a lovely idea! 🙂

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