I’m a Pheasant Plucker

Now here’s a task that took me back to the 80′s. As a jobbing butcher, I used to earn a few extra quid (in work’s time of course) by plucking and dressing pheasants. And by dressing pheasants I don’t mean putting little Action Man boots on their feet and tiny Burberry Jackets and a pair of Levi’s for a smart casual look. (Guaranteed to gain entry to any smart Southport club for any pheasant or even your plain Vicky Ave Bantam!)

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The above were given to me by Christine, a friend and follower of these very pages. I must admit I was quite rusty and tore the skin on the Partridge (far left) . I had never plucked Duck before and was astounded at how much Down there is hiding behind all the big feathers but we’re here to talk about the two pheasants on the right.

They are quite easy to pluck and I must admit that while I was plucking them sat on my milk stool with a bin bag between my legs I was the cat’s next door best friend. They were very interested in all I was doing. I admit to being a bit rusty in removing all the innards of the pheasants but got most out without making too much mess. I struggled a bit with the lungs but as I was going to make a stock with the carcass I thought they’d add a bit more flavour. I also added the heart and liver to the stock. Unfortunately when making the dish below, I forgot all about the carton of “Pheasant Stock” clearly labelled in my freezer. Never mind, it gives me an excuse to go and get more pheasant

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So what do we have here. Pan Fried Pheasant with Parmesan Mash and a Mustard Cream Sauce.

Mash! It’s brilliant. You can do anything with it. You can flavour it wit Mustard, Cheese, Horseradish, other veg, etc. I’d already decided to do a mustard sauce as I thought it would go with the pheasant so as not to confuse things too much I made my mash in the normal way, butter, milk, salt and added some grated Parmesan and a few chives that are still surprisingly flourishing in my garden. The mustard Cream sauce is exactly what it says on the tin. Wholegrain mustard and cream I did add the juices from the resting pheasant too. (Never waste those juices from resting meat, they’re soooo full of flavour.)

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The trick with the pheasants is to not overcook them. They are a very lean meat and have no fat at all to keep them basted and juicy so you have to cook them for only a couple of minutes on each side. This is where the resting comes in. It allows the meat, any meat, to carry on cooking and release any raw juices that it doesn’t want any more so you can use them in the sauces you’re making. Also it stops the raw juices leeching all over your finished plate of food.

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I must admit the breasts were cooked to perfection. A trace of pinkness in the middle but very very succulent. The flavour was also awesome. Proper pheasant flavour! We both really enjoyed it here at The Southbank Stadium. Did you spot the mushrooms? They were plainly fried in butter and added a little more earthiness to the pheasant flavour.

I had this with my new special friend. He’s called Shepherd Neame’s 1698. A full bodied Bitter at 6.5% Oh Carol was there too!

So don’t be frightened of pheasant. Andy/

 

 

 

 

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Cheap Pork with Posh Rice

Blimey, seems like just yesterday I was writing my last blog… but seems I’ve left it too my partner-in-crime for far too long.

So, just a quickie for you that packs a full flavour punch without a great deal of chef’ing to do.

Firstly, the ‘posh rice’. Well, truth be told, not rice at all, but grass, apparently. But it is the stuff that is boxed up and sold at silly prices as ‘wild rice’. Lovely, but at something like a fiver for a box… no thanks! Until I found a local supermarket selling of half a dozen boxes (still in date) for a quid each! BOOM! I’ll have some of that all day, every day!

Not much to be said about the cooking of it except to say I followed the instructions on the back of the packet… and yes, it really does take that long, and yes, do add that wedge of butter at the end, calories be damned… you WILL NOT regret it!

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As for the pork, it seems that the world… or at least the world dictated to us by the bucket-heads who run corporations, can only eat lean pork loin chops. They are everywhere, and they are the least intersting piece of pig on a pig – I bet even the pig knows that. Unless you brine them (we’ve done that here), they are tasteless, dry and massively underwhelming.

For this dish, I used pork shoulder steaks. These are cheaper and infinitely better to cook with. They are slightly fattier, but that is part of what makes the both tastier and better to cook with. If you’re worried about the size of your belly, serve less… or drink less… or skip on some chocolate… or, well, just lie with the fact that your meal will be nicer when cooked with better ingredients – and that’s why we’re doing this thing here.

So, brown off the pork steaks in a deep skillet/frying pan that hopefully has a lid. (If you haven’t got one… get one (only joking) – but brown them and finish the dish in a large saucepan will do fine).

Once the meat is browned, add a litre of vegetable stock (a cube is fine) and simmer with the lid on before you start prepping the extras. For me, this was just what was knocking around the kitchen at the time… a couple of carrots and a large onion, all coarsely chopped and chucked in the pan and stirred around.

At this point I also amped up the flavour profile. I added a dried mixed herb blend (Greek, I do believe, but any will do), a bit of sweet paprika, a small handful of caraway seeds, some black pepper and some dried garlic powder. I didn’t add salt because the stock cube should have that covered.

Simmer for half an hour and then stir everything, turning the chops at the same time.

All in all, the cooking process for this dish is about an hour, with not a lot of maintenance, so it times well with the wild rice.

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Ten minutes before the end, take the lid off. It will probably still be very ‘wet’, so turn up the heat and get it going to a rolling boil to reduce the liquid. After five minutes or so it should be getting a bit stickier and at this point add a small pot (about 250ml) of sour cream and stir through thoroughly. Once it simmers, turn the heat off and serve with the wild rice.

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As you will see from the picture, this dish is never going to win any beauty contests, but what it lacks in elegance, it makes up for in flavour… seriously! Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!

But, as a nod to the fact that it does look a bit like the dog’s dinner… here’s a picture of a big dog too.

big dog

apologies to photographer – will publish credits if we can find you