A Pleasant Pheasant

A belated Merry Christmas to the blogosphere!  I hope Santa was good to one and all.  And if not, I know where he’s been hiding…

This week, I have made every attempt to put (most of) my neuroses aside in exchange for a happy holiday season, and thus far, I have succeeded.  So before New Year’s rears its glitter-studded head, and with it arrives all of the usual contemplation and critical self-assessment, I thought I’d share a proud and recent realization:

I, Bridget O’Malley, can cook a pheasant.

This Christmas, it was just me, my husband, and our dog — an intimate gathering that encouraged me to try a little something new.  Having already managed a 20-pound turkey for a larger Thanksgiving feast, I knew I was pushing my luck, but here’s how I got it done.

Recipe For A Delicious Christmas Pheasant

Ingredients

  1. One 2.84 lb. pheasant
  2. An orange
  3. Stock from a lesser bird like chicken
  4. Bacon
  5. Salt, pepper, and sage
  6. If you remember nothing else, remember butter.

Method

First off, wake up at the crack of dawn to Google “How To Cook A Pheasant.”

(Confession: I did not wake up at dawn, but my husband did, the result of which is this beautiful shot of the Chicago skyline.  I did, however, conduct the aforementioned Google search).

When your search produces confusing and intimidating results, call your handsome chef brother-in-law in London and ask him how to cook a pheasant.

(Thanks for answering my call, brother-in-law).

He will rattle off a long list of instructions, some of them realistic (“Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.”) and some of them wildly beyond your capabilities (“Don’t forget to remove the wishbone.”).  For the most part, it will sound possible.  At this point, you will feel confident enough to go through with it.

Wash the pheasant, awkwardly apologizing for what is about to happen.  Rub butter and spices underneath its skin.  If you are feeling crafty, stick an orange in it.  Heat oil in a pan and brown the bird on all sides.  Place bacon strips over it.  Pour some broth in the bottom of the pan.  Cook it in an oven for roughly 35 minutes, basting every so often.  When you take it out, it will look something like this:

Do not be surprised.  Your husband, or someone else who has actually eaten pheasant before, will assure you that’s how it should look.

Throw the bacon out and wrap the bird upside down in foil.  Let it sit for ten minutes.  In the meantime, take the following precautions.

  • Set the table with crystal and china to create a pleasing ambiance that will elevate the result. (For us, it was all of the wedding presents we had never before used).
  • Pour good wine to help make however it turned out all the better.  (For us, it was a 2008 Margaux).
  • Plate up some trusty side dishes to hedge your bet that something on the plate will be edible.  (For us, it was roasted fingerling potatoes, brussels sprouts, and the almighty stuffing).

Remove the pheasant from the foil, carve it, and take your seat at the table, masking any uncertainty with a cautiously optimistic smile.

Voila.  A delightfully pleasant pheasant, from my table to yours.

— Bridget

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