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!)
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
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.)
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.
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/