As I sit pondering over writing this recipe with both a sense of indecision and ignorance, I’m left with a surprising solace. It is always entertaining to venture into the unknown, equipped with only a spoon and sense of wonder. Pheasant is a rare find in our local grocery store, unless we’re in Canada, and when found is an immediate draw for me. Preparing pheasant, like most dishes, offers a vast array of approaches, techniques, and complimenting ingredients, but I have it in my head that a stew is in order for a cold winter day. Pheasant is often misperceived as gamey, but when cooked gently can deliver succulent results. This stew recipe is light with a delicate balance of vegetables and pheasant. With hints from the smoked bacon fat used to sear the pheasant and sauté the vegetables, to the brandy, braising wine and fresh herbs, all delivering to the uninhibited sauce finished by whisking in some crème fraiche. Perhaps it was our recent trip to Quebec, or the fact it was the last remaining pheasant at the market, or perhaps the inevitable need to try something new. Either way, pheasant was the secret ingredient in this delicious meal.
SECRET INGREDIENT: Pheasant
TIP: We originally made with parsley dumplings, but in abundance, served up leftovers the next day in a baked puff pastry.
- Pheasant (cut into 6 pieces, legs with thighs, breasts, and wings – reserve remaining carcass and giblets for stock if desired)
- Porcini mushrooms (1/4 cup dried)
- Flour (1/4 cup)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Smoked Bacon (6 thick slices, cut into strips)
- Olive oil (1 Tbsp)
- Onion (1, chopped)
- Garlic (3 cloves, chopped)
- Carrots (3, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
- Potato (1, cut into 1-inch pieces)
- Butter (2 Tbsp, at room temperature)
- Brandy (1/4 cup)
- Dry red wine (1/2 bottle)
- Chicken stock (1 cup)
- Fresh Rosemary (1 large sprig)
- Fresh Thyme (8 sprigs)
- Fresh Parsley (2 large sprigs, plus ¼ cup chopped)
- Crème fraiche (1/4 cup)
- Puff Pastry (bake in individual oven-proof bowls)
- In a glass measuring cup, add porcini mushrooms and 1/2 cup boiling water. Let rest for 20 minutes, and then remove mushrooms squeezing to release liquid. Then finely chop. Reserve mushroom liquid.
- Season pheasant with salt and pepper and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- In a bowl, add flour, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Dust pheasant pieces in flour mixture, then shake off excess and set pheasant aside.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon pieces until just crisp. Using slotted spoon, remove bacon from pot and set aside. Reserve bacon fat in pot.
- In same pot over medium-high heat, add pheasant pieces and brown on both sides. Remove from pot and set aside. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes until tender, adding additional oil if needed. Add carrots and cook for 3 minutes. Add potato and butter, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add brandy and deglaze pot. Then add wine and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Add chopped porcini and reserved mushroom liquid.
- Return bacon and pheasant pieces to pot.
- Make a bouquet garni with the parsley, rosemary, and thyme and add to pot.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove breasts and set aside. Continue cooking, covered, on low heat for 1 hour.
- Remove remaining pheasant pieces and let rest. Stripe meat from bone (reserving carcass for stock if desired).
- Increase heat to medium-high, and cook for 20 minutes to reduce sauce. Remove from heat and whisk in crème fraiche and chopped parsley.
- Return pheasant meat to pot with heat on low to warm.
If no puff pastry, try parsley dumplings.
For Parsley Dumplings
- Flour (1 cup)
- Baking powder (1 tsp)
- Salt (1/2 tsp)
- Garlic powder (1/4 tsp)
- Coriander (1 tsp)
- Butter (2 Tbsp, melted)
- Milk (1/3 cup)
- Parsley (3 Tbsp, chopped)
- In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, garlic powder, and coriander.
- Mix in butter and milk, and then fold in parsley (do not over work dough).
- Drop dumpling dough by the tablespoonful into stew at the last 15 minutes of simmering, cover pot and cook over low heat until dumplings are cooked through.
-- Weather When Posted --
- Temperature: 24°F;
- Humidity: 60%;
- Heat Index: 24°F;
- Wind Chill: 14°F;
- Pressure: 30.29 in.;