My grandfather is an excellent hunter. Working in the kitchen means I don’t have tons of free time, but when I do, one of my favorite things to do is go to their house and dig through the freezer to see what sort of game we can scrounge up for dinner. It’s fun to be able to spoil them a little bit with good food, and show them some stuff that may be out of the ordinary. A little while back, I came up with this dish to use up a couple pheasants he had.
This is a fun recipe, the method includes a recipe for making stock from the pheasant carcasses, which I recommend, but you could easily substitute some chicken broth and get a similar effect. The dried porcini are used in two different ways here: bug damaged porcini are ground into powder and used to season the breasts. Undamaged dried porcini buttons are used to garnish a brothy jus and infuse the pheasant stock with a rich flavor. Something creamy is a nice accompaniment to garnishing broths, so I used a risotto made from kale, you could just as easily sub some mashed potatoes though.
Porcini Crusted Pheasant with Kale Risotto and Porcini Jus
Serves 4 people as a main course
Porcini Crusted Pheasant Breasts
- 2 whole, skin-on pheasants, legs reserved for another purpose, breasts removed, leaving the wing bone attached.
- 1/2 oz Dried Porcini stems, ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Grapeseed or canola oil for sauteing
- 1/2 cup rice for risotto such as arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano, precooked per my method here.
- 1 bunch lacinato kale
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, or domestic parmesan
- 1/2 cup Sweet yellow onions, diced 1/4 inch
- 1/2 oz Dried, undamaged young porcini buttons
- 1 quart pheasant stock (recipe follows)
- 2 pheasant carcasses
- 1 rib of celery
- 1 sweet onion, halved, skin attached
- 1 large carrot
- a bay leaf
- 1 tomato, halved
- A couple garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- If possible, chop the pheasant carcasses into pieces using cleaver. Preheat an oven to 375 and roast until the carcasses are browned, about 45 minutes. Put the browned carcasses in a stock pot with the remaining ingredients. Cover the ingredients with water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours, adding extra water if the ingredients poke above the water line.
- Strain the stock and reserve. You should end up with about 2 quarts.
Dried Porcini-Pheasant Broth
- In a wide sauce pan, combine the dried porcini and the 2 qts of pheasant stock. Heat and reduce until you have about 2 cups of liquid, about 45 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid to remove debris, then recombine them. Season the jus to taste with salt and reserve.
Saute The Pheasant Breasts
- Heat a pan big enough for the pheasants with some oil or lard. Season the Pheasant breasts with salt and pepper on both sides, then dust them with the ground porcini, you could easily do this in a bag like shake and bake.
- Place the pheasant breasts, skin side down in the pan and cook until they are brown and caramelized, about 4-5 minutes. Flip the pheasant breasts over quickly just to lightly cook the underside where the tenderloin is located. When the pheasant breasts are medium-well, set them aside in a warm place until needed.
- Remove the stems from the kale. Blanch the kale in lightly salted boiling water for ten seconds, then dip in ice water to cool and drain. Mince the kale finely and reserve.
- Heat the precooked risotto rice in a pan, making sure to add a tbsp of water if you need to in case the rice starts to stick to the pan. when the rice is hot and cooked, but not mushy, about five minutes, add the butter, cheese, minced kale, and incorporate vigorously.
- Taste the risotto for salt and then put the pan back on low heat for moment to ensure that it is hot for your guests.
Finishing and plating
- Take about 1/2 a cup of risotto and place it on the middle of a 4 large dinner plates with a lip or wide bowls, then spoon the porcini and their jus around it.
- Remove the drummy from each of the pheasant breasts, then slice each pheasant on a slight bias and place on top of the risotto. Garnish each plate with a pheasant drumstick. Serve Immediately