Guest post by Tom Hayes
Most people think of wild game as a "fall" dish. Which it is, but, in the fall, I am out harvesting so don't get much of the wild game cooked and served during those fleeting days of "hunting season."
I really enjoy preparing and eating game so will frequently visit the freezer throughout the year until it is empty, just in time for the hunting seasons to begin.
I was born and raised in South Dakota and in that part of the world "Bird Hunting" means "Pheasant Hunting." Whereas in the South "Bird Hunting" is synonymous with "Bobwhite Quail Hunting."
Wild pheasants are active birds and spend a lot of time walking and running around, flying only when spooked or very determined to get some place a bit of a way off. Their legs are full of tendons and many folks just breast out the birds and discard the rest. I have done this, but always feel guilty because:
1. My folks were not well-to-do and we considered not eating anything edible as a travesty, and
2. The legs and thighs are very flavorful parts of the bird.
So, what follows might be thought of as two recipes that make excellent companion dishes.
Pheasant with Wild and Long Grain Rice:
First, thoroughly clean one a pair of pheasant thigh-leg portions. Be very careful to clean out all wound channels and remove any traces of feathers and shot. This is very important. Take the time necessary!
In 2 cups of low- or no-sodium broth ( I like to use 1 cup each, chicken and beef) add in the whole thigh-leg pieces. They will "bone out" much easier after being cooked.
Spice up the broth a bit with:
½ teaspoon of onion powder (or 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped onion)
⅛ teaspoon of ground marjoram
⅛ teaspoon of ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon of ground thyme
⅛ teaspoon of ground oregano
a dash of mace
a dash of turmeric
Bring to a boil in a saucepan then cover and reduce heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender (longer time required for it to fall off the bone).
Remove from the heat and take the thigh leg portions out of the broth and bone them out, taking time to "filet out" the obnoxious tendons from the drumsticks. Chop up the boned out pheasant pieces and return to the saucepan.
Strain the broth (through an unscented paper towel in a strainer) to remove the ground spice flakes.
Measure the liquid and add water or more broth to bring to 3 cups and add to the saucepan.
Add 1 Cup of the rice blend to the meat and broth, bring to a hearty boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
If you like mushrooms (I do, but not if they are overcooked and mushy) put them into the rice about 3 or 4 minutes before the 30 minutes is up and return to heat.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
While the rice dish is cooking:
Filet the breast meat from the bones and rinse thoroughly, again, tracing out any wound channels and cleaning out shot and feathers.
Moisten the breast filets in one more water (or broth) rinse and dredge until well coated in white or brown rice flour (these gluten-free flours work really well for frying).
Place on a dry cookie sheet to "rest" for about 2-3 minutes - this tends to dry the coating a bit and makes it stick better when frying.
Heat a skillet containing 2 tablespoons of a light oil such as Grape Seed Oil or Pecan Oil until shimmering. The oil must be medium high HOT.
Carefully fry the breast pieces in the hot oil until golden brown on one side then turn and brown the other side. Test a thicker place on one of the breast portions to be sure it is cooked through.
Remove from skillet to paper towels to drain for a few seconds, turn over, and when excess oil is absorbed, serve with the pheasant and wild rice dish.