Chantrelle and Pear Bread StuffingIngredients:
About 4 cups of Pullman loaf or other firm white bread torn into small pieces (I used Italian, again, worked fine)
1/4 pound chanterelle mushrooms
1/12 pound pancetta, diced small
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins
1/2 small chopped onion
1 minced small shallot
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons white wine
1 diced pears ( firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 heaping teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced chives
4 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup turkey stock (since I wasn't making turkey, I used chicken stock. I leave this to your judgement and personal menu)
1. Dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside.
2. Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a plate.
3. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding pancetta.
4. Add 3/4 tablespoon butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.
5. Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.
6. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour 1/4 cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.Yeah, so that part in step 7 where you are supposed to top each muffin cup with a tablespoon of stock? Guess what I forgot to do. As a result the little stuffing cakes were a bit resistant to holding their forms, but by holding parchment paper over the top and then flipping the entire thing, I was able to get enough of them to hold in a delicate state that was presentablefor the meal.The Pheasant and I were now staring each other down. The legs, I have read, are really not even worth thinking about eating. As game birds the little suckers run around a lot, making the meat tough and unappetizing. Better to just hack them off altogether and save for stock. And so, at about 5pm Thanksgiving day, I was breaking the hip joints and cutting off the legs. I live such an enchanted life.
Roasted Pheasant with Apricots and DatesAdapted from Gourmet MagazineIngredients:1/4 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
- 1/8 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 a lime)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- A 2 1/2- to 3-pound pheasant
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
- 1 bay leaf
- vegetable oil for brushing pheasants
- 1/4 cup pitted dates, chopped
- Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs
In a small heatproof bowl cover apricots with boiling water and soak 10 minutes. Drain apricots and cut into quarters. In a small saucepan simmer wine, liqueur, lime juice, and sugar 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut off legs of pheasant and reserve for another use. (Glamorous work) Sprinkle pheasants inside and out with pepper and salt to taste. Put 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 bay leaf in cavity of the pheasant and close cavity with skewers or toothpicks so that pheasant holds its shape.
Brush pheasant with oil and in a roasting pan arrange, breast side down. Roast pheasant 20 minutes and discard any fat in roasting pan. Turn pheasant over and to pan add apricots, wine mixture, and dates. Roast pheasant, adding about 1/2 cup water if all liquid evaporates, 25 minutes more, or until thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160°F. Let pheasants stand 10 minutes.
Transfer pheasants to a cutting board and cut each in half. Serve pheasants with apricot date sauce and garnish with thyme.Okay, confession time once again. The recipe as I have provided is halved from a recipe for making two pheasants. This means there should be twice as much liquid for the sauce in a full size roasting pan then there was. I did realize this, and planned to check in on it about ten minutes after putting it in, but at about minute 7 I started to smell something burning. I ripped it out of the oven, and the liquid was very dark in color. I added water and some extra wine, and it was passable, but not very attractive. Next time I might just make all of the sauce, and allow for there being extra, rather then burn the halved version. Oops.
Pheasants, as game birds, are leaner then, say, a chicken. This makes it very easy to dry out, so I was keeping a very close eye on mine, and even took it out of the oven a few minutes early. The recipe says to let it rest for about ten minutes, but a British website the TimesOnline states about Pheasant "All meat continues to cook after it has been taken out of the oven because it is still relatively hot. If the meat is served while this process is still in motion, it is likely to be tough. When you come to carve, if steam escapes from under the knife, the meat has not been rested anywhere near long enough... A rough rule of thumb is to rest meat for about the same length of time that it spent in the oven. This may sound an implausibly long period for some, but try it and I promise that your roast will taste more forgiving." I erred somewhere in the middle. Will wasn't yet home when the bird came out of the oven, so I put it in a dish with a lid and let it rest on the table until he arrived, which was greater then 10 minutes but not quite 45.
In the end this untraditional Thanksgiving fowl was a success. The breast retained its moistness, and paired well with the apricots and dates, even if the latter two were a bit overdone. The stuffing was a huge hit, flavorful filling, and I now have a tupperware full of the less structural ones to snack on or put in a sandwich. The pie, well it was a great follower but a bit of a challenge in its own right, so if your curious be sure to stop back tomorrow!