Pheasant is something you’d only ever encounter at one of those old fashioned stuffy French restaurants. You know the ones with waiters wearing black ties and big white aprons, the room heavy with brocade drapery and red flocked wallpaper. The kind of place that has escargot, steak au poivre, Pheasant Normandy and Baked Alaska on the menu. It seems to me Quail and Pheasant were always the upscale chicken at these kinds of places. I used to love going to this kind of place when I was growing up. I felt so sophisticated and adult. I never did order the pheasant at one of my annual, usually birthday, fancy dinners out. So when I was chatting with a farmer at Union Square Market recently who sold Pheasant I couldn’t resist.
The above pictured petite frozen Pheasant was $32. Careful of the feathers.
The farmer had convinced me that you could feed more than 2 people with this, but I would disagree with him on that. This bird was maybe 2 1/2 pounds of sinewy dark meat and was just enough for Neil and I.There are an ample amount of recipes on-line for Pheasant, but the one that most appealed to me was one by Nigel Slater that was very simple and straight forward.
A Pot Roasted Pheasant with Celery and Sage
Preheat the Oven to 350 F.
Wipe dry your Pheasant and salt and pepper well. Make sure it is at room temperature.
In a dutch oven or other pan that has a lid that will fit over a Pheasant add 4 Tablespoons of Olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot brown each side of the Pheasant. Well the entire bird is nicely gold remove from the oil. Add 3 more Tablespoons of Oil when hot add: 6 cloves of garlic roughly chopped, 3 Stalks of Celery (with leaves) chopped into 1 inch chunks, 4-6 yellow fleshed potatoes chopped into bite size pieces (skins still on) and 8-10 Sage Leaves. Fry until the potatoes have started to brown add Salt and freshly ground Pepper and 1 cup of white Vermouth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Return the bird to the pot along with any juices that may have collected, cover the pot and cook int he oven for 45 minutes.
You can either remove the legs and carve the breast or with a good knife just divide the carcass in half.
Season the potato sage, celery ragu with salt and pepper.
In the end I’m not really sure what all the fuss is about. This is a nice way to prepare poultry but in truth, next time I make it, I’ll use a chicken.