Friday, October 24, 2014

More Pheasant and Another Recipe

As I said in my last post, our friend Rich brought home 3 pheasants on his second day hunting. We used 1 1/2 birds in a wonderful Pheasant Mushroom Stew, and it was finally time to do something with the remaining 1 1/2 birds. Back on Monday when we worked with the birds, I set this second half of them into a marinating container with some red wine, olive oil, smashed garlic and fresh herbs, and there they stayed until yesterday evening. This was the wine marinade recipe:

Wine Marinade for Pheasant

enough for 1 to 1 1/2 pheasants

1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons juniper berries
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage (about 20 leaves)

Set the pheasant quarters into a container. Add in the juniper berries, garlic and fresh herbs, then pour in the wine and olive oil. Marinate, turning twice daily for up to 3 days.

Dinner of Pheasant Alfredo, egg noodles and Fall Fruit Compote
My original intent with these wine marinated birds was to make a wine-based sauce, and add in a lot of dried fruit - somehow. Somehow, the recipe was just not coming together in my mind. The concepts I wanted to bring together just weren't coalescing into a usable recipe. And then - and this is where I love having Rich around - he said he really wanted to use a cream based sauce, maybe an Alfredo Sauce for these birds. I said I had really hoped to use a lot of dried fruits in the recipe, and it seemed they would just muddy an Alfredo sauce. Rich said, "Why not use the fruits in a side dish?" To which I had to smack myself on the forehead and say, "Well, DUH!" 

Okay, so now I had a workable plan. First off, being me, I prefer to make my own Alfredo Sauce, so I had to create a recipe, since I never really had. I asked Rich what he would put in an Alfredo sauce? He said cream and cheese. Well, okay. I was a bit concerned that the meat, having soaked in wine for 3 days, would also muddy up the white Alfredo Sauce. Rich said he didn't care if the sauce was pink or purple. I embellished on his Alfredo "recipe" a bit, but in essence, used that concept. I will say, try to use the best quality butter, cream cheese, Parmesan and Romano cheeses that you can afford for this sauce. It makes a world of difference. As for the dried fruits, I decided to make a compote-like side dish that would serve like cranberries do with turkey or chicken. Wine seemed to be a theme in this menu, so I wanted to cook the fruits in a wine reduction sauce. My other true desire was to use fresh quinces as a part of this fruit melange. 

Creamy Pheasant Alfredo and noodles with a splash of color from the Fruit Compote
I think it is truly not necessary to first marinate the pheasant in the wine sauce before making it into this Alfredo recipe. The main reason we went the wine marinade route was just to keep the birds in a suspended state until we could get one batch eaten and get around to the second batch. Rich was averse to freezing the remainder, if we were going to be using them soonish. However you choose to go about this recipe, I will say that the meat did not leach color into the white Alfredo Sauce, so that was wonderful. The meat was tender, albeit still dry, despite not really overcooking. For anyone who has not cleaned, cooked or eaten pheasant, the meat has almost no fat whatsoever. It is almost impossible to have a fat-free meat that is also juicy and tender. We even went the route of a very low 250 degree oven this time, and the meat was still dry. Luckily I like dry fowl just fine.

The birds tasted very good last evening, in the recipe we thought up. Nothing truly new under the sun, of course. Pheasant Alfredo recipes seem to abound, as I soon noted when I Googled that concept. My Alfredo was terribly rich, but I think that sort of comes with the territory. Still, the addition of herbs and garlic seemed to take the sauce to new levels. It was absolutely delightful. The fruit compote was the perfect accompaniment. The wine was great, the company convivial and all was perfect in my world.

Pheasant Alfredo, straight from the oven

Pheasant Alfredo

serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pheasants, in quarters (marinated or not)
1 stick unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
10 sage leaves
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (3-ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese (3-ounces)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large or 2 smaller sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh sage (or about 20 leaves)

At least 1/2 hour before making the Alfredo Sauce, melt the stick of butter over very low heat and add in the minced garlic and 10-ish sage leaves. Leave the pan on the lowest heat possible, so it does not even come to a simmer. This might require leaving the pan slightly off the burner. The goal is to "steep" the garlic and sage flavors into the butter, cooking the garlic very gently so there is no raw flavor left. (I left my pot over a "warming burner" for over an hour).

When ready to make the sauce, remove the spent sage leaves and add the flour to the butter and garlic in the pan and stir in. Add in the milk and cream and bring to a low boil. Add the cream cheese, in cubes, stirring until it is melted into the cream. Add in the Parmesan and Romano cheeses, stirring until they are melted. 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole with cooking spray. Set the fresh herbs over the bottom of the casserole. Lay the pheasant quarters over the herbs, skin side down (whether it has skin left on or not). Pour the Alfredo Sauce over the meat. Cover the casserole tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. 

This pheasant Alfredo dish was just perfect served with wide egg noodles as an accompaniment. The Fall Fruit Compote (recipe coming in my next blog) was just the right amount of bright flavor to cut through all the cheese and cream in the sauce. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.