Cranberry Soup with a Side of Pheasant
I fancy myself a pretty good wild game cook. I’m not at “chef” status, but I can turn traditionally gamey meats into dishes worthy of a second helping by most folk’s standards. However, tonight’s kitchen effort knocked my ego down a few pegs.
Last Sunday, I purchased a toy that I’d been eyeing for over a year – an enamel cast iron Dutch oven. I didn’t splurge on the uber expensive Le Creuset brand, but dropped $50 on a Food Network knockoff at Kohl’s.
I took out the lone pheasant in my freezer still wearing its skin. Like most pheasant hunters, I have a hard time finding the time to pluck my birds even though I know they’ll taste better with the skin sticking to the meat. However, one duck hunt last November in North Dakota also produced a rooster that cleaned up nicely with the lodge’s Duck Naked contraption that removed the bird’s feathers while leaving the skin intact.
I thawed said rooster and brined it for two days as I studied pheasant roasting recipes. I finally settled on a treatment featuring a cranberry glaze.
Uncharacteristically, I followed the recipe almost exactly (I’m notorious for using recipes as nothing more than an outline). Unfortunately, this evening’s “roast pheasant with cranberry glaze” went awry despite my best efforts to follow instructions.
First, in my excitement to pluck the rooster’s feathers last autumn, I failed to remove the bird’s crop. Imagine my surprise when I sliced into the bird’s perfectly moist white flesh to uncover a sack filled with roasted insects, corn kernels, soy beans and leaves. Yuck! After removing the contaminated meat, I carefully deboned the clean meat from the carcass.
I then covered the roast pheasant meat with the cranberry sauce as instructed by the recipe. While the roasting Dutch oven did an absolutely perfect job of keeping the bird’s flesh moist, the cranberry sauce was so intense it covered up any hint of pheasant. I was left to eat what essentially tasted like cranberry soup.
Oh well; it’s the failures that make the successes so sweet, right? Not sure my wife, Meredith, will buy that train of thinking at the moment though. I better see if she’s still throwing up after eating a grasshopper covered in cranberry sauce. Whoops!
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.
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