Pheasant recipes offer indulgent flavors
One of the most common items I’m asked how to use is wild game.
Coming from a hunting family, I have plenty of experience working with various game. While many of the questions refer to the 30 pounds of venison that are still in the freezer despite their family members out hunting for more, some of the questions are about pheasant.
Pheasant can work great as a substitute for chicken, turkey or pork in many of the recipes that you already use. But the low fat content in pheasant that makes it a healthier meat option also makes it a little tricky to cook.
Because it is so low in fat, it is a good idea to roast it in the oven or crock pot at a low temperature (250 to 300 degrees) and to cover it with moisture. If you want to grill or pan fry it, try leaving the skin on or wrapping the breasts in bacon to add moisture back into the meat. Be sure to use a high enough grill or pan temperature that it will quickly sear the outside, leaving all of the juices inside of the meat.
Also, as with any cooked meat, when it has fi nished cooking and has reached the temperature of 165 degrees, remove it from the heat source and let it rest, covered, on the platter for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This will allow time for the juices in the meat to come to a rest to keep them from rushing out onto the plate as soon as you cut into the meat.
A few weeks ago, my fiancé and I had another couple over for dinner so we could exchange a few of our favorite recipes. The recipe I shared, which I have always loved and has never failed me, was one from my mother, and his was for a pheasant pate that I tried for the first time this fall and have been dreaming of ever since!
Karley’s Pheasant, a common dish in my family for as long as I can remember, is cooked in a tarragon and sherry cream sauce. The rich, indulgent flavors of the cream sauce are so well-liked that this dish has been served at my family’s Christmas dinner for years. We take the pheasant breasts, dredge them in seasoned flour and sear them in a frying pan over high heat. At this stage, you don’t want to cook the pheasant completely through, as that will dry out the bird. So as soon as both sides of the breast are golden brown, remove them from the pan and saute your mushrooms, garlic and onion. Once that is complete, add the ingredients to make the cream sauce, add the pheasant back into the pan, then place in the oven or slow cooker for 30 minutes to one hour. The results are tender, juicy pheasant breasts that are perfect over wild rice.
Dahl’s Pheasant Pate recipe uses not only the breasts of the pheasant but also the nutrient and fl avor-packed thighs of the bird. It’s also wonderfully simple, which is much appreciated in my kitchen! Once the meat is cooked, place it in a food processor with mayonnaise, heavy cream, lemon juice, butter, red onion, Frank’s Red Hot and a few other seasonings. Once the pate is a nice, creamy texture, remove it from the processor and chill it for several hours. Serve your pate with your favorite crackers, chopped red onion or shallots, hard boiled eggs, chives and parsley.
(Pheasant in a Tarragon & Sherry Cream Sauce)
2 lbs. pheasant breast
¾ cup fl our
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup olive oil 3 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, white, sliced
3 cloves garlic, fresh, minced
½ cup diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
2 cans evaporated milk (not the fat-free kind)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon dried tarragon (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 cup dry sherry
Place pheasant breasts in a re-sealable plastic bag with fl our, and first amounts of salt and pepper. Seal bag and shake until the whole pheasant is coated with flour. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pheasant breasts 4 at a time, or as many as can fit in the pan without overcrowding. (Cook in batches as needed.)
Brown on each side and remove from pan and set aside. Add butter to Dutch oven, melt and add garlic, onion and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until all onions are tender and translucent and mushrooms have reduced by half in size. Season with second amount of salt and pepper.
Add 2 cups white wine to pan and scrape all browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine by half. Add evaporated milk, mushroom soup, sherry and dried tarragon. Add pheasant pieces back to mushroom cream sauce, bring to a simmer and place in oven to bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and serve over wild rice blend.
Dahl’s Pheasant Pate
1 lb. cubed pheasant breast and thigh meat
2 tablespoons butter for browning the pheasant
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated red onion (or diced very fine)
1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
In saute pan over medium heat, cook cubed pheasant in butter until cooked through. Add to food processors and blend for 30 seconds or until meat is smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and evenly combined. Chill for several hours. Serve pheasant pate with your favorite crackers. Garnish with chopped red onion or shallot, hard-boiled egg, chives and parsley.