Sunday, July 22, 2007

If No Power Is Available, Let Them Eat Pheasant

Thanks to a short but powerful thunderstorm and the inability of Dominion Power to complete a task the first go round, my house remained without electricity for 28 hours. In some ways I was blessed to have little of consequence in my refrigerator. The prolonged power drought gave me the opportunity to throw out old, crusty condiments. However, my freezer held a few precious commodities – a variety of bones for stock (beef, veal, chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant) and three pheasants that my father had given me after a hunt. We kept everything in the freezer for as long as possible, but after 16 hours, action was required. I made beef and poultry stock with the bones. And I made stew with the pheasants. Just as we were finishing up everything and deciding which friends we could prevail upon to cram all of this day’s work into an operational refrigerator, Dominion Power arrived to turn on the lights. Throughout this ordeal, I was thankful to have a gas stove. My pheasant stew recipe follows:

3 whole pheasants

1 large onion, chopped

2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced

Fresh white corn kernels sliced from 3 ears of corn

12 ounce can of tomato juice

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot place pheasants and fill pot with water. Let water come to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Let pheasants cook for about an hour and a half, until tender. Remove pheasants to a bowl. (At this point I strained the water that was in the pot and wiped the pot clean to account for any extraneous feathers and the returned the water to the cooking pot.) Add the onions to the water in the cooking pot and simmer for half an hour. When the pheasants have cooled, debone and shred the meat. (Be extra vigilant about deboning a pheasant. Pheasants have small needle-like bones in their legs. It is easy to miss these.) Add the shredded meat to the pot and cook for an hour. Add the potatoes and more water and cook for half an hour. Add the corn, dried herbs, salt, and pepper. (I also added two cups of chicken broth that had defrosted in my freezer.) Cook for half an hour. Add the tomato juice and cook for an hour. Taste to adjust salt and pepper levels. Turn off heat and let pot cool. Wait for Dominion Power to show up. When the electricity is back on and the refrigerator is working, place the cooled pot in the refrigerator with a lid. Heat the stew the next evening. Drink with a 2000 Brunello di Montalcino from Castello Romitorio.

The pheasant stew was not too gamey and I liked the addition of fresh corn. Since this recipe was adapted from a family Brunswick stew recipe (Granddaddy Stew) that I usually make, my husband kept saying that it was missing something, like butterbeans and beef. Still, very tasty. The Brunello had mellowed a bit in the bottle and complimented the ever-so-slight gaminess, but did not overpower the stew. And the bottle sported a very cool label. It is a painting from Sandro Chia created in 1984 entitled Bread and Wine.


GP said...

Brunello is an interesting call for pheasant stew, but I like the boldness. Did you open it the night before? And how was it when you pulled the cork?

pjpink said...

Hi gp - You are right. It was an interesting choice, but this was a 2000 that the Wine Lovers shop was selling at a special price. The wine had softened quite a bit; thus, pairing better than expected with the pheasant. I did not need to open it the night before to breathe.

gp said...

That's great. At 7 years old the Brunello should have been in full stride, so your timing couldn't have been better (and even better at sale price!).
If you ever get the urge to ry it again - without the power outage - I might be so bold as to suggest a valpollicella or a ripasso if you want something a little sturdier, assuming you stick with the Italian theme. Oh, or a primativo. That could be cool.
Otherwise one of your '03 Rhones would probably knock it out of the park.
Regardless, I get a lot of vicarious pleasure reading about your gustatory adventures. But not as much as you get living them, I am sure.

Katrina Rank said...

Dear PJPink,

May I have your permission to reprint your pheasant recipe on Castello Romitorio's website.

Kind regards,

Katrina Rank