At times, life will get the best of me. Like others, I become distracted with life, work, and other pursuits. I was reminded that fans come to this page for more historical cooking and recipes. To make up for this oversight, I’ve posted two pheasant recipes for the viewer. Chicken may be a lesser substitute for the pheasant, but the game bird is preferred.
Like many during the Renaissance, the rich or poachers were able the luxury of meat. Pheasant, like fish, was abundant and tasty. The first recipe is French influenced and the second recipe is from the New World with Spanish influence.
This recipe calls for 5 pheasants – a meal “borrowed” from the French and popular with the Feast of St. George. Celebratory in nature, the dish should be for special occasions.
Roast Pheasant With Sauce Bigarade
Serves 10 people
Add salt and pepper as needed
15 parsley stems
5 thyme sprigs
5 bay leaves
8 fl. oz. brown duck or chicken stock
1 tsp fresh orange zest, julienne, blanched
30 pieces orange meat
Rinse and trim the pheasant (removing spare fat and wing tips), removing fat from body cavity. Place the phesant, breast side up, on a rack. Season it with salt and pepper. Place 5 parsley stems, 1 thyme sprig, and 1 bay leaf into the cavity of the pheasant. Roast the birds at 425 degrees until the juices run barely pink and the thigh meat registers 170 degrees. Remove the birds from the pan and rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
3/4 oz. sugar
1 tsp water
1 tsp white wine
1 fl. oz. cider vinegar
2 fl. oz. orange juice concentrate
2 oz. red current jelly
1 qt. Demi-Glace (can be purchased at a higher-end grocery)
salt and pepper as needed
To finish the sauce for service, degrease and deglaze the pheasant roasting pan with stock and strain the drippings into the bigarade sauce. Return the sauce to a simmer and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Finish the sauce with the zest and the orange meat. Carve the pheasant for service by cutting away the breast from the rib and cutting the leg away from the body.
New World Pheasant:
6 oz of orange juice concentrate
3 sprigs of rosemary
Kosher or sea salt
Cut the pheasants in half lengthwise (neck to tail). Marinade pheasants in orange juice for two hours with crushed rosemary*. While marinading, zest 3 oranges. Once done marinading, trim bird (remove excess fat and remove wing tips), and sprinkle orange zest in cavity and add remaining zest to top of the birds. Spring lightly with kosher or sea salt and black pepper (not too much).
Grill birds, the pheasant fat carmalizes with the orange juice for a sweet and smoky flavor. Compliments well with wildrice with hazelnuts and crandbury salad (just cooked wildrice, dried craisins, and toasted hazelnuts). this easier recipe provides a high lean protein, complex carbs, with fruit influences.
* The three sprigs of rosemary may tribute to the Christian God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, popular in Spanish culture. Many of the older Spanish and French recipes will call for three sprigs of rosemary as a way of blessing the dish. The three sprigs of rosemary were also found in floral arrangements and hat decorations in Catholic cultures during the Renaissance.
First recipe circa 1602 France
New World recipe circa 1680, (Americas with Spanish influence)