The story begins in late February when Kyle and Roland set off with other college boys and their dads for some father-son bonding on a pheasant hunting trip in southwest Georgia. They head to a hunting "farm" where the hunters stand in a large semi-circle, and the birds are released and are shot. I supposed it's not so much pheasant hunting, as it is pheasant shooting. I have no pictures of this massacre. Thankfully, for me anyway, the now dead birds are cleaned and turned into just the breast meat, and placed in zip loc baggies. Roland and Kyle took their share, and I am happy to report, that they did not take as much as they actually killed. From February until just a couple of days ago, the baggies remained in our freezer, and every so often, Roland would ask when we were going to eat them.
This brings us to this week, when, because the entire family was home, I decided it was time. The meat was properly thawed in the refrigerator. I won't go into detail about the thawing and subsequent leak in the zip loc which I didn't notice. Yesterday morning Roland came down and said it appeared that the refrigerator had been shot. 'Nuff said.
I've never cooked pheasant, so I searched the web, and found what appeared to be a delicious recipe for Pheasant Breast en Croute. I won't type out the whole recipe because it's long and involved, but if you're interested, you can find it here (thank you, Snake River Grill in Hagerman, Idaho).
Did you notice the mention of my liking to cook things in under 30 minutes? Well, this took the whole afternoon. I started with the wild rice stuffing. Easy enough. Then I got out the pheasant breasts. Turns out there were 14! Never mind, they were all thawed, so they all had to be cooked. Here they are ready to go in the oven:
So, I missed the instruction that they should be covered, but I did see the all caps warning of DO NOT OVER COOK. Well, that just means that of course I will over cook them, especially because I didn't cover them. Oh, well. I forged ahead. While they were in the oven overcooking, I made the cherry sauce. Cherries are kind of hard to find, but my local grocery had some old looking ones. I bought one bag, plus 2 cans of pre-pitted bing cherries. This gave me about the quart called for in the recipe. My fingers are still stained from pitting the fresh ones, but the sauce turned out beautifully!
Do you notice how they look a little shiny? Well, while prone to skip things like "egg wash", this time I actually did it, and the results were good.
The last sauce in the recipe was the beurre blanc (lemon butter sauce). It called for 1/2 a POUND of butter. I love butter as much as the next person, but didn't think my family of four needed quite so much butter, so I cut this recipe in half. In spite of its French name, this sauce is quite easy to make, and of course, what's not to like when you have melted butter with a little lemon juice and wine mixed in.
Kyle came home just before I took the little croute wrapped birds out of the oven, and asked if we were having crescents (crescent rolls... his favorite). That's what it smelled like... delicious! I made steamed asparagus to go with, since I had already had major work with the rest of the meal. Looks pretty good:
The recipe suggested slicing the packets at an angle and arranging on top of the cherry sauce, topping with the beurre blanc. I decided my family was capable of slicing their own. I served it with a delightful chardonnay.
How did it all taste, though, I'm sure you're wondering. Well, not too bad. Some parts (the overcooked ones) were pretty chewy... jerky was how Roland described it. The thicker parts were more tender. Not as mild as chicken, but really not that gamy. Laura and I cleaned our plates, the boys left some asparagus. And while it was all quite civilized, there was also an element of danger with birdshot remaining in some of the pieces, making dinner quite an adventure!
I put my tongs next to the birdshot for perspective.
The next post will surely feature.... sewing!