From Spoon: Just in case you may be wondering what happened to all of that glorious meat, charcuterie and game from Ted’s recent photo shoot for D’Artagnan, a good bit of it landed in our fridge and freezer. In the last three days, I’ve come home to dinners of buffalo tenderloin, lamb chops and tonight, this delicious braised pheasant, which in a first-ever move, Ted both cooked and photographed.
This rustic preparation, inspired by a recipe he found on a pheasant hunting website, includes ventreche, the French version of pancetta, plenty of thinly sliced garlic, and both fresh and dried herbs. D’Artagnan’s pheasant is domestic and therefore less gamey than the wild version, but it nonetheless has a rich flavor that is distinctly not chicken. Your local market probably won’t have it, so if you don’t know a hunter, you can order it online from D’Artagnan.
2 1/2 – 3 lb. pheasant
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 1/2 ounces ventreche (or pancetta)
5 tablespoons minced onion
5 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
3 tablespoons dried oregano
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for garnish
6 tablespoons fresh minced basil leaves
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup water
3 ounces duck bacon
Rinse the pheasant and pat dry before cutting it into parts. “I butcher all birds the same way,” says Ted:
First, use kitchen shears to cut out the back bone; spread the bird out flat. Remove the legs, leaving each leg and thigh in one piece. Remove each wing in one piece. Flip the bird over and use kitchen shears to cut the breast into two pieces. This should leave you with six pieces of pheasant.
Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add duck bacon and cook until crisp. Dice and set aside.
Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the pheasant pieces, skin-side down, and cook, about 5 minutes, or until the skin side is brown. Turn the pieces over and add the ventreche (or pancetta) and onion. Cook until the ventreche and onion are browned.
Add the garlic and herbs, and stir in brandy and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the good bits. Cook uncovered, over medium heat, 4-5 minutes, turning the pheasant pieces once. Turn the pieces skin side up again, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the wine and water, cover and cook for 12 more minutes.
To serve: garnish with the diced duck bacon and chopped parsley, with the pan juices poured over the pheasant.