Pheasant with Mostarda di Cremona

The Fascist poet F. Maninetti wrote a book called The Futurist Cookbook in which he gives a recipe for pheasant with mostarda di Cremona. His recipe requires that you take your pheasant and bathe it for 1 hour in moscato de Siracusa, a sweet heavy Sicilian wine, and for another hour in milk, and then finish by stuffing it with mostarda di Cremona and candied fruit. I have actually done this recipe and it works very well, but it involves a lot of time, effort, and expense. This is an adaptation of his recipe, from Robin Weir and Rosamund Mann’s mustard book.

Ingredients

  • 2 pheasants (preferably a hen and a cock), giblets reserved
  • cup mostarda di Cremona plus an extra 1 tbsp syrup from the jar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 slices of bacon, flattened thin
  • cup Muscat de Frontignac or any other good sweetish white wine
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2-3 strips of lemon peel
  • A sprig of fresh lemon thyme
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Lemon juice

Method

Discard any yellowish pieces from the pheasants’ livers, then chop them. Chop the fruits of the mostarda quite small. Mix this and the livers into the butter and pat into a sausage shape. Chill this stuffing until firm.

Smear some extra butter underneath the skins of the pheasant breasts, then paint them with the extra syrup from the mostarda.

When the stuffing mixture is firm, cut it in two and put one piece inside each pheasant. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and bard with bacon. Place the pheasants in a roasting pan and pour the wine over. Roast in a preheated oven at 425°F for 45 minutes. (They may take longer, depending on their weight - the usual time to allow is 20 minutes for each pound, plus 10 minutes extra.) Baste every 10 minutes or so with the wine in the pan.

While the pheasants are cooking, make a stock with the pheasant giblets, the shallots, lemon peel, and thyme: Cover these with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer gently. Strain and return to the pan, then set aside.

About 10 minutes before the pheasants have finished cooking, remove the bacon; crumble and reserve it. Dust the birds with the flour and return to the oven to brown the breasts. Once the birds are cooked, transfer to a platter, carve, and keep warm in the oven, covered with foil.

Pour the cooking juices into the giblet stock and bring to a boil. Add the crumbled bacon, season to taste, and squeeze in a little lemon juice to offset the sweetness. Serve the gravy in a very hot sauceboat.

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