The recipe for the pheasant began with instructions to “eviscerate.” Ordering the bird from the butcher pleasantly eliminated that step, although the skinny little thing still had its scaly feet attached.
Somehow Tim had gotten it into his head that he wanted to cook a pheasant. (Maybe it’s because we run or bike past so many of them in Delftse Hout.) My brother is visiting, and as the presence of an extra person always catalyzes these ideas faster (just a day earlier we’d used our oven’s rotisserie feature for the first time), we found ourselves standing in the butcher’s while he asked us if we wanted a male or female fazant. (We admitted our ignorance before choosing the male.)
We’ve eaten pheasant before, most notably at Roger la Grenouille in Paris, and Tim enjoyed it. I mostly enjoy the experience of watching other people embark on extravagant cooking projects. Thus I’ve been pleased a few times this week to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and watch what unfolds at the stove, instead of being the person scrambling around and repeatedly burning her hand.
The fazant recipe we chose came from Darina Allen’s The Forgotten Skills of Cooking, and you can actually find the whole recipe here. One tip is: if you’re the person sent out to the liquor store to get the gin for the recipe, it’s only THREE TBS., and you don’t need to spend your money on a whole bottle, like I did. (Anyone got any other good recipes that call for gin?) Our male pheasant got browned on the stove with some bacon, and wound up in the oven. Other than that the bird seemed a little scrawnier than we’d imagined (it was just under a kilo), all progressed well, and we moved on to the recommended side dishes: creamy wild mushrooms, and champ.
My brother and I shamed our Irish heritage by not knowing what champ was; and to be honest, we’re still a little puzzled: it seems like mashed potatoes with some green onions stirred in. We suffered some kind of recipe failure at this point: the recipe instructed us to simmer the potatoes in whole milk for just a few minutes, then mash them. I hadn’t been following along too closely until I saw my brother trying to mash potatoes that were hard as a rock. (Not his fault—he was just following the recipe.) After a brief and frustrating interval, the heavy guns were called in: myself, and the immersion blender. We offloaded a whole bunch of milk, removed the potatoes and chopped them up smaller, heated everything, and I blended it into submission.
The high point here was that we had plenty of occasion to employ the two champ-based insults the Wikipedia page had taught us.
The final meal was delicious, thanks to the dedicated labor of Tim and Ian. The food-tography is also courtesy of my brother, and there is likely more of it coming. (If you read this blog regularly, you probably noticed these photos are noticeably better than the ones I take. Ian is available to be contacted for all your food- and beer-tography needs.)
My brother has been here for almost two weeks; he’s going home in two days; and it’s his first time in Europe. We’ve done a whole bunch of touristy stuff, but family comes together around food, and so it seems fitting, somehow, to write about that.