Thursday, November 14, 2013

Early Thanksgiving Feast. No turkey allowed…

   After getting home from school one day I realized I had a missed call. It was from my old roommate who is now married.
“Hey mang! I’ve got a present for you, call me back!”
   As I called him back, I was thinking to myself, what on earth could he possibly want to give me? He proceeds to tell me that through some connections of his, he was able to acquire some pheasants. I have never had a pheasant before. But being the lover of food that I am, I will take anything that can be eaten.
   So of course I want pheasant! However, I only thought he was going to come over with already cleaned pheasant meat, maybe two or three full ones. Man was I wrong. When he arrived at my apartment, he proceeds to pull out two trash bags full of them. And to make it even better, they had not been cleaned yet. Nothing is fresher than recently shot and ready to be cleaned pheasant. The most I have ever fully cleaned was fish. Pheasant was basically the same, only with more time invested into it. You had to remove the feathers, which was surprisingly easy because the skin underneath tore right off, break off the head, make a small incision around the breast, pull out the innards, and break off the legs.
   We got to work instantly. Luckily my cowboy friend and outdoor roommate were close at hand to help. Homework? Who cares. I learned more just by cleaning those pheasants that night than I ever would reading from a book. Sleep? Why bother. We were up till about 1 in the morning cleaning them. The meat was small, it was delicate, and it was beautiful. It is one of God’s many gifts to man. As we cleaned and gutted, I proceeded to wash them and remove any shot from the shotgun bullets that remained. There were over 20 or so, 1 male and the rest female. No small feat, but well worth the time and effort.

 Cleaning the pheasant, we kept it pretty clean while cleaning the pheasants surprisingly.

   We decided that we would have a feast with as much of it as we could, and with as many friends as we could muster up the courage to partake of this different meat. We did so, in a strangely thanksgiving manner, and froze the rest.
   Again, I had never had nor dealt with pheasant meat. So with what little knowledge I had on it, I made up a simple meal.
  • Bacon wrapped pheasant with a maître d’compound butter (which had a slight twist to it, a la James)
  • Roasted red potatoes
  • Candied carrots with a sweet sugar glaze

The finished plate. Presentation is hard as a college student.

   There were a total of about 15 of us enjoying the bounteous feast. Everything turned out well, after all of the preparation and planning. For many present at the feast, it was a first, and hopefully not the last either.
   After finishing the meal, I learned just how delicate the meat was simply from deboning them. Anything they teach you about deboning chicken, please disregard. The meat literally could be pulled off with little effort, still remaining quite intact. I had to make up my own method of deboning from trial and error. Pheasant is very dark meat, but also very lean. It dries out fast, so you do not want to cook it with harsh heat unless you add more fat/protection to it through barding/larding. The bacon protected the meat, but I would like to try other methods (namely poaching) in the future to see what works best. Needless to say, I have plenty more pheasant to deal with. And through trial and error, I will become pheasant king, sort of…

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