Finding the pleasant taste of pheasant
With pheasant season a few days away, area cooks are prepping their kitchens and taste buds for the bird's arrival and some believe the bird really isn't so "gamey" after all.
Some area pheasant cooks have their recipes engrained, often not relying on specific measurements.
Veteran pheasant cook Margaret Steffan of Dickinson, has been prepping the bird for as long as she can remember, since her husband began hunting near their farm.
"It makes a really delicious broth," Steffan said.
To begin the broth, Steffan said the pheasant must be plucked of most of its feathers, making sure to keep the skin intact.
The pheasant must then be "scalded like you would a chicken," in 5 cups of water.
After scalding the pheasant, strain the liquid and take the meat out.
"It gets its wonderful flavor from that layer of fat under the skin," Steffan said. "It's the flavor under the skin that counts."
While the meat can be used in the soup, Steffan advises against it as the meat does not taste good enough to eat after the scalding process.
Often transforming this broth into pheasant noodle soup, Steffan then adds a bay leaf, onion and eventually, homemade noodles.
Steffan said a tablespoon of chicken base may be added if the flavor isn't strong enough.
Pheasant soup is not the only option to transform the bird into a meal.
Scott Roberts of Dickinson, religiously follows his pheasant recipe to prepare the birds collected during hunting season, but preparation is key, he says.
The most time-consuming part of prepping the bird, however, is finding all the BBs, Roberts said.
"Anyplace where I see a BB went into I'll cut into there and try to find any BBs in the thing," Roberts said. "You definitely miss one once in a while."
Roberts said prior to cooking the bird, the gamey taste can be pulled out by soaking it in milk and the blood can also be extracted.
"I normally soak them (pheasant) overnight in a salt water ... it pulls the blood out," Roberts said.
Using a can of cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup and a can of beer, Roberts concocts a stew-like meal from birds collected during his hunts.
The pheasant meat can also be breaded and deep fried, Roberts said.
"I've also cooked it on the grill," he said. "Take the breast and actually wrap them in tinfoil with whole peppers, onions and stuff like that."
Even for the cautious eater, the bird can be appealing.
"My daughter is a very finicky eater and she loves it when I cook pheasant," Roberts said.
Two pheasants, breasts deboned
Beat one egg with 2 tablespoons milk
One can cream of chicken soup
Seasoned flour to taste
One-half onion, sliced
One can milk
Cut up and dry pheasant pieces
Dig in egg mixture, then flour
Brown in butter and transfer to Dutch oven
Slice onion over top
Add soup and milk to browning skillet.
Pour over top of pheasants
Bake for five hours in 200 degree oven
One pheasant cut in serving pieces
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped or dried parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Coat pheasant pieces in melted butter or margarine
Mix together bread crumbs, parsley and parmesan
Roll pheasant pieces in crumb mixture
Arrange in baking dish and bake for 40 minutes in oven
Serve and enjoy
One can of cream of mushroom soup
One can of cream of celery soup
One can of beer
Pheasant meat, amount can vary
Cut the pheasant breast into cubes and fry in a pan with olive oil
Add can of cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup
Add can of beer
Simmer on medium
Can be eaten with noodles
Prior to cooking the bird, check the breasts thoroughly for any remaining BBs
The gamey taste can be pulled out by soaking the meat in milk and the blood can be pulled out by soaking it in salt water overnight