This weekend while I was being wined, dined and educated to my heart’s content at the fabulous Eat Write Retreat in Asheville, NC (full post to follow), my husband and year old German Short-hair Pointer went out pheasant hunting.
It was Lilly’s maiden voyage with live birds, and while she had fun, her pheasant hunting skills still need a little work! Despite, her puppy ways, Jim was still able to bring home four pheasants. And by bring home, I mean the cleaned breast meat. He takes care of all of the unpleasantness out in the field so all I am left with is beautiful breast meat.
If you have never cooked pheasant before, it can be intimidating, simply because it is different. It is not difficult. has a wonderful flavor but can dry out easily so it is important to use a light hand in any cooking method.
The number one most important thing in handling game birds, is to clean, clean again and then clean one more time. Cut away any tendons, skin, feathers and shot areas. If you find a red spot, where the flesh has reacted to a pellet, just cut it away. You will be much happier with a smaller amount of clean, delicious meat than trying to preserve more meat of a lesser quality.
The idea for this stew was inspired by a post I saw on Food52 by Tom Hirshfeld of Bonafidefarmfood.com. A cold day, fresh pheasant in the refrigerator…it seemed like the perfect time to give this a try. I added the prosciutto and capicola for an extra depth of flavor. You will love the salty, spicy notes this creates with the milder flavor of the pheasant.
By using a medium dice on vegetables, they have time to soften up, but still retain a nice texture. Everything was coming together nicely, but the stew just seemed to be missing something. The final piece of the puzzle for me was adding a tablespoon of Blessed Botanical’s Salt of the Earth. This just happened to be included in my swag bag from our wonderful Asheville experience, so I decided to give it a try. A very unique blend of Sea Salt, nettles, onion, garlic astragalus root and green rooibos. (Don’t worry, I don’t know what all of those things are either – but they taste great!)
Whole wheat pastry flour is a fantastic, easy swap for white flour in many recipes and works particularly well in this one as it gives the biscuits just a bit more texture. Combined with the reduced fat-buttermilk, you have a heavenly biscuit topping for the stew that is just a little bit healthier.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have fresh pheasant on hand, go ahead and give it a try with chicken breast!
Pheasant & Biscuit Stew
- 1 tblsp. Olive oil
- 1 – 1 ½ lbs pheasant breast meat, cleaned throughly and cubed
- 3 oz. diced prosciutto
- 1 oz. diced capicola
- ½ sweet yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 large rib celery, diced
- 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
- 3- 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, diced
- 3 tblsp. Butter
- 2 tblsp. Flour
- 3 cups no-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tblsp. Salt of the Earth (from Blessed Boanicals)
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ cup leaf lard
- 1 ¼ cup reduced fat buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 425° . In an oven proof skillet with high straight sides, heat the oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, add the pheasant meat and brown it. Remove the meat from plan and set aside on a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the prosciutto and the capicola and cook until crispy. Transfer to dish with pheasant.
- Add butter, onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and potatoes. Season with 1 tsp. kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until onions are starting to become tender.
- Add flour and stir to combine with vegetables and butter. Add stock and bring to boil while stirring. Return pheasant, prosciutto and capicola to the pan. Add 1 tblsp. Salt of the Earth. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Prepare the biscuits by combining the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir together with fork. Add the lard, and using your fingers, work it
into the flour mixture until it broken into small pebbles.
- Pour the buttermilk over the mixture and stir it very gently to just bring the mixture together.
- Uncover the stew and using a small biscuit or ice-cream scoop, evenly place 6 – 8 balls of dough on top of the dough.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.
- Let cool about 10 minutes prior to serving.