Pheasant & Mushrooms
Periodically my husband goes on a tirade about food. He usually gets set off when I come home from grocery shopping and ask him to lug in all the bags. He’ll go on and on about how we couldn’t possibly need all that food when we have a fully stocked pantry and three freezers full of food. He’ll make a proclamation that we should “eat out of the freezer!”
Good point, but aye, here’s the rub. Although our freezers are absolutely packed with delicious possibilities, it’s a bit of an odd assortment. It would be one thing if I could just pull some chicken legs out of the freezer and grill them that evening, but our freezers are filled with stuff that our hunter/fisher/gatherer friends have shared with us. For example, I know for a fact that most of our freezer space is taken up by venison (loins, chops, steaks, stew meat and sausages), followed by pheasant, quail, veal sweetbreads and even some bear and moose meat. In the seafood arena, I’ve got a bunch of octopus, squid, shad roe, and snapping turtle. Some of these require a bit of thought and planning not just a stint in the oven.
Nonetheless, to keep the peace I decided to “eat from the freezer” at least for a while. Pheasant – usually reserved for fancy holiday dinners - became Monday’s supper. I scoured my game cookbooks to see what would be the easiest to make on a weekday. I have to admit the recipe I chose was very easy (modified from a Genius Kitchen recipe). Just sear the pheasant breasts in a cast iron pan, set them aside then sauté some onions and mushrooms, return the pheasant to the pan and add white wine, chicken stock, rosemary, and a little salt and pepper. Voila! Cover the pan and let it roast for a couple of hours. I used sliced white button mushrooms but an assortment of wild mushrooms would be even better.
It’s really important to gently sear the pheasant then tightly cover the pan while roasting as pheasant is a notoriously dry meat. That’s why many recipes have it wrapped in bacon or smothered in a cream sauce. You want to keep all that delicious liquid in the pan while it cooks.
PHEASANT & MUSHROOMS
Breasts from 2 pheasants
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil (more if needed)
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup double-strength chicken stock
½ teaspoon ground rosemary (or sage)
Salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a heavy cast iron pan lightly brown the pheasant in some melted butter or oil. Remove the pheasant from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan sauté the onions until soft and translucent, adding more butter or oil if necessary. Set them aside while you brown the mushrooms in the same pan. When the mushrooms have nicely browned, return the pheasant to the pan tucking the pieces under the mushrooms and onions.
Add the wine, chicken broth, rosemary a little salt and pepper then cover your skillet tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake at 375 for 1½ to 2 hours. Check after 1½ hours to make sure your pheasant is not beginning to dry out. If you’d like a thicker sauce, add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water – simmer on top of the stove until the sauce begins to thicken, about 1 minute.
This pheasant dish pairs especially well with buttered noodles, pureed butternut squash or sautéed red cabbage.