Pheasant with Bean Sprouts

Braising a pheasant with cabbage is a classic French way, with sauerkraut a German way, of keeping this dry game bird moist. Braising pheasant with bean sprouts is a West Coast-Oriental way, which Helen Brown mentions in her West Coast Cook Book. I’ve moved western pheasant west to the Far East by adding Oriental spicing. One bird will serve two, but it’s easier to whack the bird in half with a cleaver before you cook it than after, and the flavor of the marinade better penetrates the flesh if the bird is split. Oregon does a lot of pheasant farming, but a wild bird, if you can get one, will have better flavor than its tamed chicken-tasting brother.

Ingredients

  • 2 young pheasants
  • 8 slices fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 green onions, with tops, slivered into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sherry or vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon each black pepper and Five-Spice Powder (or a mixture of cloves, allspice, and mace)
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 1 pound fresh bean sprouts
  • ½ cup chicken stock

Method

Cut each pheasant in half, cutting along one side of the breast bone, spreading the halves apart, and cutting along the backbone on one side. Cut out the backbone from the other side. Make a marinade of the seasonings and pour over the pheasants. Let sit at least 3 hours or refrigerate overnight.

In a wok or heavy skillet, heat the oil. Remove birds from the marinade (reserving it), pat dry, and brown them skin side down until skin is golden. Line a wide casserole with a layer of washed bean sprouts, cover with the pheasants in a single layer, and then with remaining sprouts. Pour in the chicken stock and reserved marinade, cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake at 350° until a meat thermometer registers 160°, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the birds.