Friday, October 18, 2013

Roasted Partridge Rubbed with Curry

Recipe by Jen

According to Rick, who just happens to know these things at the top of his head and makes up for the fact that I'm too lazy to do any research tonight, chukars (or partridges) are not native to America. After the successful introduction of pheasants, chukars were then brought over to the United States. These birds did well out west in states like California and Oregon, but they never took root in Nebraska. For that reason, naturally occurring chucker populations are not found in the wild here. They are only found at hunting clubs that stock them for visiting club members. With that being said, that is exactly where this chukar came from. (Shout out to Pheasant Bonanza in Tekamah! Pssstt! ... Ask for Aaron Schroder to be your guide.)

It's not often that I get a bird from the field that's plucked and kept whole, but when I do, I treat it extra special. So for something different, I thought that pairing it with curry would fit the bill. This isn't specifically Indian or Thai. I just used whatever I had on hand in my pantry, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out. If you're wondering what chukar tastes like, it's a lot like pheasant or even chicken. Its light and mild.

Being small and lean, chukar can dry out easily, but the trick is to brine it beforehand-- a technique that I highly recommend when cooking game birds. It adds extra flavor to the meat and does a great job at keeping it moist. The brining may take 4-6 hours, but it's little work. Cooking the dish will only take you 35 minutes. If you have a chance to hunt for chukar, I hope you give this a try!

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 4-6 hours
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
- 4 whole chukars, cleaned and plucked
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 tbs. of butter, melted
- 8 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 8 juniper berries, slightly crushed
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 5 sage leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons of mild, yellow curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian Paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger
- dash of dried basil
- 1 teaspoon of dried coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
Curry Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- zest of one lemon, plus 1 tsp. of juice
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon of yellow, mild curry powder
- dash of turmeric
- 1 1/4 cups of unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of sugar, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

1. To make the brine, combine all brine ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat it just enough that the sugar and salt dissolves. Take off heat and cool completely before adding birds.
Then submerge chukars in the brine. Cover and  refrigerate for 4-6 hours. If the brine doesn't cover birds completely, just add more water or move them around now and then. You can also place a heavy dish or bowl on top to keep the birds submerged.

2. Before cooking, take the birds out of the brine, rinse them under cold water and remove any remaining feathers or shot. Dab dry with paper towels. Then allow birds to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine rub ingredients and evenly distribute it between the four birds. Insert a quarter of a lemon into each bird then place in a baking dish breast side up.  Since it's only me, I only cooked for one with a quail that was beginning to freezer burn. 
I found a couple pieces of shot while cleaning the birds. Then another one while I was eating it. If feeding to guests unfamiliar with game, be sure to warn them about the possibility of finding shot in their meal. It's not fun when you unknowingly bite down on one with bare teeth.

3. Bake chukars in a 425 degrees F oven for 30-35 minutes, or internal temp reads 155 degrees F. Baste with melted butter halfway through. 

4. To make the sauce, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes and zest. Stir fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. 
Then add coconut milk, soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sugar, 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt and 1 tsp. of lemon juice. It might be easier if you mixed these ingredients ahead of time in a small bowl. Bring to a boil and then cook until slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Add chopped cilantro and adjust seasonings.  Take off heat. 

5. Once chukars are cooked, allow them to rest covered in foil for about 5 minutes. Then serve with curry sauce spooned on top or on the side as a dipping sauce. It tasted great with black rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Panko and Herb Crusted Pheasant with Sorrel Cream Sauce

Recipe by Jen

When you live in (or near) the country, there is no shortage of produce. You will be bound to meet a few friends who tend to garden faster than they could eat, and in the summer, they'll try to offer you as many tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers and apples as they can, which you will gladly accept because homegrown veggies and fruits are always better than store-bought. But this summer was a special one. This summer I discovered sorrel, which my good friend April gave to me. This lemon-like, tangy herb makes a wonderful, creamy French soup that I have totally fallen in love with. It's also easy to grow and is very pest resistant. When Rick and I get an opportunity to keep a garden, sorrel will be one of the first things that I will grow. And now that fall is here, I feel the need to highlight it in one of our dishes-- before it gets too cold for April to give me any more of this awesome green. :-) 

This sorrel cream sauce will make a great condiment for anything that needs an added brightness, like seafood and anything fried. Next time you have fried fish, serve it with this sorrel cream sauce instead of tartar sauce. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
- 4 pheasant breasts
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs
- leaves from 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp. of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. of kosher salt, plus more to taste
- vegetable oil and/or butter for frying
- 2 cups of sorrel leaves, packed
- 1/2 tbs. of butter
- 1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. To make the sauce, wash sorrel leaves thoroughly. Remove the center ribs and stems, then give the leaves a rough chop and set aside. 
2. Next, melt 1/2 tbs. of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add chopped shallot and sauté until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Then add sorrel leaves and a pinch of salt. Stir often until leaves are wilted and tender, 5-10 minutes.

3. Then whisk in 1/2 tsp. of all-purpose flour to the wilted sorrel. Cook this mixture, which will turn into a paste, for 2 minutes and stirring often. Next whisk in 1/2 cup of heavy cream and bring the sauce to a simmer. Do not boil. Simmer to desired consistency then take off heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside, covered.
4. Lay 1 pheasant breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. With a mallet, flatten pheasant breasts until about 1/4-1/2 inch thick and repeat with the others. Season all sides with salt and pepper then set aside.
5. In a dish or wide bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, thyme, rosemary and 1 tsp. of salt. 
Then dredge flattened breasts in this order: flour, egg and Panko. 
Next, deep fry or pan fry coated pheasant breasts until thoroughly cooked and golden brown all over, about 2-3 minutes each side. I like to pan fry in a combination of both butter and vegetable oil.

6. Reheat sorrel cream sauce over low heat. Add more heavy cream to loosen sauce, if desired. Check seasonings, then spoon sauce over breasts or serve on the side. Serve immediately with your favorite side dishes. 

To reheat leftover pheasant, bake in a 400 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes or until heated through. They will crisp right up again. 
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