Saturday, March 7, 2009
Continuing My Quest to Eat All of the World's Wildlife, I Present the Pheasant.
So, tonight I roasted up that pheasant I picked up at Eats yesterday. I am a lover of poultry. Put a perfectly roasted duck/turkey/chicken/goose on my table and you can count me a happy man. Because of this I will generally purchase any fowl that I haven't tried in hopes that it will be delicious and enter my culinary arsenal. Until now the only bird I have run into that I have not entirely enjoyed was emu, the steaks were a bit too vivid a shade of purple for my tastes. I had higher hopes for the majestic pheasant.
I paid about 15 bucks for this approximately 2.5 pound bird (frozen, from a Wisconsin farm). An exorbitant price in light of the present economy I know, but I work hard and have few other hobbies or vices.
Here she lies out of the plastic wrap.
See those little black things. They be feathers. I didn't mind this a bit, I find that seeing remnants of the animal that once was gives me a connection to the reality of what I am eating. It is not so sterile as the lily white and flawless poultry we are so used to purchasing.
When I am trying a new ingredient for the first time I always favor the simplest of possible preparations in order to get a true sense of the unadulterated flavor. I decided to roast the bird with nary a spice or herb save salt and pepper. Oh yeah, I just wouldn't be myself if I did not wedge bacon into the recipe. I covered the breasts with two hearty strips of center cut bacon. You can't blame me though, this is actually a very traditional way to maintain a juicy pheasant breast.
Into the oven at 500 went the bacon draped bird for 15 minutes. After this time you are going to want to (gasp!) remove the bacon. If you don't you are going to end up with burnt bacon and ugly pale pheasant skin. Here is a picture of the lovely bacon to sate your bacon lust.
Back into the oven goes the bird at a reduced 400 until the juices run clear and the skin is browned, about 25-30 minutes. The pheasant came out looking pretty enticing.
I let it rest for a while and then pulled off a drum stick and sliced off some of the breast.
The color of the breast meat closely approximates that of chicken, however, the flavor is much stronger. There is distinct flavor and aroma to the meat that is common to game birds. If you have ever eaten wild turkey you will know what I am talking about. It is as if you can taste a little of all the herbs, seeds, and nasty little arthropods and worms that the bird snacked on during its life. There is a natural, almost herbaceous taste that many will find off-putting. I myself enjoyed the texture and flavor of the pheasant but I will say that I would probably favor a cooking method that included stronger flavors. I could see pheasant being very good in a fricasse or cacciatore type recipe. I think I will probably wait until the next time I see pheasant on a restaurant menu before I try it again. I would like to see how a more experienced cook treats this particular poultry before I hazard another attempt.