I'm not a pheasant plucker
December 22, 2009 2:52 AM   Subscribe

My rabbit supplier was only able to provide 2 rabbits instead of the 4 I needed, so gave me a deal on 2 pheasant to go with them. I need advice on (1) plucking and (2) cooking pheasant, with or without the rabbits.

I have to feed 9 people on the 27th to give relief from turkey, I was going to do a hearty rabbit stew, alas the 2 rabbits won't stretch to 9. Would it be possible to do something which combines the 2 pheasant and the 2 rabbits in one dish or should I cook them separately? Do you have any recipes or ideas for how they might go together?

The pheasants are still feathered, with beaks and all internal organs - any tips on getting them from that state to ready for the pot? I.e. on plucking, butchery, and general preparation for cooking.
posted by biffa to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I'm not really a pheasant plucker - not even a pheasant plucker's son, however... (sorry).

Plucking is pretty easy. just rip the feathers out with your hands, slowly getting finer and finer. Pro-tip: when you can't get any closer to the feathers, pass a flame QUICKLY over the bird to help scorch off the fluff. This won't help with many quills, so be sure to get them all by hand, but it's dynamite on fluff/fine down.

Cleaning, I can't help you with.

For combining rabbit + pheasant, google hunter's stew etc. This kind of combo is very common in Italian and some French cuisine.
posted by smoke at 3:01 AM on December 22, 2009

Pheasant - depends on whether you want the skin or not. If you don't need the skin (if you are going to do a hunters stew for example), then the easiest is to 'peel' the skin off, which takes the feathers with it. I've only done this once, but used the instructions in this forum post to good effect.

Same site has a guide to dressing a pheasant with pictures, which I've never done so can't vouch for.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:40 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

In times of need, Delia is the answer.

You might want to consider Game Pie.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:24 AM on December 22, 2009

I've always dressed pheasant like Coobeastie above. Stick a screwdriver of knife into the hole by the crop, insert finger and pull. Everything comes right off. Viola!
posted by sanka at 4:58 AM on December 22, 2009

I know it doesn't combine the two but I would roast them. Roast pheasant is delicious. My aunt used to make roast pheasant with cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup that was fantastic, if simple. I am not sure I can get a hold of her in time to post the recipe, but I found tons of interesting recipes via Google.

The guide that Coobeastie posted will work. Although I usually field dress the birds before anything else it won't hurt to work in that order.
posted by Silvertree at 5:58 AM on December 22, 2009

I've roasted many a pheasant just like that, with cream of mushroom soup, but you should also try substituting golden mushroom soup. That's my favorite way.
posted by sanka at 6:15 AM on December 22, 2009

I'm making a rabbit confit at the moment, and while I probably would do them separately, it strikes me that confit-ing the pheasant as well would be a wonderful approach. It's also ridiculously simple if you have enough oil. You could do them in two different fats with different additives, or control all variables the same to highlight the different proteins.
posted by Mngo at 6:38 AM on December 22, 2009

What about something like this Chilindron? I don't see why you couldn't throw in both the pheasant and the rabbit.
posted by motherly corn at 7:12 AM on December 22, 2009

I am the most pleasant mother pheasant plucker that ever plucked a mother pheasant. No other mother pheasant plucker is more pleasant than I.

The biggest issue with pheasant is that it dries out quickly if not covered or in some sort of sauce. My father and I both hunt pheasant, so we've had some experience with them. Here is our recipe, as told by my mother:

Pheasant Nuggets
Pound out breast pieces(if you don’t have a rolling pin – or weight-wrap a pop can in cellophane and use that)…salt and pepper and wrap around a dried apricot and secure with toothpick. I get about 4 nuggets per breast
Brown in butter-a few at a time
Place in casserole until all are done
Return all to pan and flame with a shot of brandy-careful you don’t have a fan on…douse out with ½ cup of wine or chicken broth.
Pour into casserole.
Sprinkle with rosemary-you could add some cream or ½ and ½…cover and bake at 350 degrees for ½ hour and then reduce to 300 degrees for 45 – one hour.
Prepare cream sauce
Sour cream and I can of mushroom soup…warm and pour over pheasants…sprinkle with chives or pecans and enjoy…wild rice is a wonderful compliment…but so is smashed potatoes.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:48 AM on December 22, 2009

Pheasant is best well-hung. Unless your supplier has hung the birds, if you have a cool place to do so, hang them up, UNplucked, for a few days. Clean and pluck (or peel -- that's a new one to me) the day before you'll be cooking them. Hanging improves the taste and texture of the flesh.
posted by anadem at 9:40 AM on December 22, 2009

I have had something similar to craven's recipe. It was quite good. Craven also makes a good point, don't overcook your bird or it will dry out in a hurry.
posted by Silvertree at 1:17 PM on December 22, 2009

We hung for a few days, and have just skinned them, remarkably easy, knife down the back from neck to tail, pull the skin away then through the knuckle for feet and wings and then excise the crop with a V shaped incision. Will be cooking tomorrow though not settled on a fial recipe as yet.

Thanks for all the advice!
posted by biffa at 1:29 PM on December 26, 2009

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