Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Study of Pheasant

So, I was going through the restaurant inventory the other day looking for something to do for my daily lunch feature when I came across four lonely pheasant.

I happen to like pheasant, I think it's delicious and I don't know to many people who would disagree. So, pheasant it is.

Conundrum. How am I to take four birds and turn them into at least, oh say, 12-16 portions for a feature. Well, let me tell you.

The plan. De-bone the birds along the spine so as to leave all the usable skin in tact. I want to do this so that I can later wrap the breast meat back up inside the skin in the lovely phallus object we in the french schooled cooking world refer to as a Ballontine. However I think that what should be done in stead of the traditional way of braising it in a stock from the bones is to instead confit it in duck fat.
Why not? Oh and after that I figured that a little bit of a cold smoke would do it some good as well.
Once all that is out of the way, all that is left to do is sear the skin so that it has a little bit more sex appeal that your average pasty white phallus.

This whole confiting thing has two positive outcomes: Firstly; It is bound to impart all sorts of wonderful flavors and as long as I don't cook it to a temperature greater than 136ish degrees I will have a wonderfully moist breast as well. Secondly; I now have beautiful bones with which to make a roasted pheasant jus with. Which I did.

This leaves only the well used legs of the Pheasant. There is not a lot of meat on them bones and what meat there is is riddled with tendons that no one would enjoy chewing on, braised or not. So what should I do. Think that grinding the meat would be the best possible solution. Now, more often than not, the farce meat made from the legs would be run through the center of the ballontine. However, I had something else in mind. Unfortunately Pheasant eggs are not so easy to procure. Or, not at least without risking getting beaked in the eye while trying to poach from a nest of a very overprotective parental unit on some near by walking path. So, in this case, a noble chicken egg will have to suffice. Scotched eggs!A great treat that has some how fallen along the wayside in favor of some less labor intensive egg dishes. Seeing as I am being paid by the hour, bring on the labor intensiveness.
What we do here is wrap the pheasant thigh farce around a soft boiled egg,
bread it
and then deep fry it. Ideally what you get is a crispy, meaty outer layer with a beautifully cooked egg with a runny yolk.

After all this nothing is left to do but pair it with other foods to make a proper meal out of it. To be perfectly honest, once you've gone to all this trouble, pairing anything with it would do the trick. I did however, spend a lot of time on all this so why not take some nice garnishes along for the ride.

For the scotched egg; truffled potato puree, roasted pheasant jus.
And for the ballontine; strawberry gastrique, fresh strawberries, chervil and my favorite heart stopper, duck fat mayo(made from the confit fat which the ballontine was cooked).

As they say, "there are many ways to skin a cat" or maybe more fitting would be Mr. Scrooge "a cooked goose". There are a lot of ways to cook a pheasant, I hope you like the way I cooked mine.

Sean Peltier.


  1. I love the scotched egg link to wikapedia. what the hell kind of eggs are those?

  2. Back when I was a vegitarian, I had a scotch egg by mistake. It was a horrifying experience, since I'd never heard of one before. That looks lovely, though.