100th post: Pheasant is pleasant

 

I know I started this blog as a poor college kid. And trust me, I still enjoy mac-n-cheese, ramen noodles, and hot dogs. There will still be simple recipes with 3 ingredients or less. But as I’ve progressed through my Masters and am now in PhD school, my tastes have evolved and I like to expand my horizons. Thus I decided at least once a month I will try making something I’ve never had, slightly exotic dishes.

For June, as my 100th post, I give you, roasted whole pheasant! The ~3lb bird itself was $25, but the brine and the accompanying roasted veggies were less than $10, so it’s still not bad for a super cool and fancy meal for two plus leftovers. Also you then have forever bragging rights.

Brine:
8-10 cups water (enough to cover the bird)
3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp whole cloves
3 cloves crushed garlic
2-3 bay leaves
Juice of 1 whole lemon
Juice of 1 whole lime

Step 1: Add salt and maple syrup to water, bring to a boil so all salt and syrup dissolves.

Step 2: Let cool to room temp, add spices and juices. Place the whole pheasant in the brine. Mine was frozen so I thawed it in the fridge overnight, but you can put it in there frozen whole too. Let the bird soak a minimum of 4 hours up to overnight. The longer it soaks, the saltier and more flavorful it will get. Mine soaked overnight, about 20 hours total.

Step 3: Take the bird out of the brine and drip dry it. Rub it all over with butter, including loosening the skin and rubbing butter underneath, directly onto the flesh if you can. Optional: place spices from brine over the bird or add fresh.

Step 4: Place a quartered onion and/or halved apple inside the cavity of the bird. Place it in a buttered or sprayed oven-safe pan and tent tin foil over it.

Step 4: Roast the pheasant at 400 degrees for ~1 hour. Then lower the oven to 350, remove foil and roast an additional 30-50 minutes, until no longer pink and juices are clear. I’m sure there’s a temperature recommendation too but as I have no meat thermometer, I just looked and said, yup that looks done and delicious.

For vegetables:
1 yellow potato
1 normal russet
(I wanted one purple too but the grocery didn’t have them)
1 onion, sliced
1-2 cups baby carrots
Garlic salt

Add the cut veggies in a sprayed pan to the oven for the final 30-50 minutes of baking. Add some bringing liquid if you like for extra flavor. Sprinkle with garlic salt when done.

And so you see, you can make a magazine-looking-worthy meal with very little work. If a busy, poor PhD student can do it, you can too! And trust me, brining overnight is definitely worth it! The meat was salty and tender, not at all tough or dry or gamey. I would highly recommend trying this.

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