Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

You don’t see pheasant on restaurant menus very often these days, but at one time it was considered the height of elegance and every fine restaurant had its own preparation. I think it’s due for a revival, because the rich, lean meat pairs perfectly with some of my favorite foods: foie gras, truffles, and bacon. You could make this with chickens or even a turkey, but if you have a source for pheasant, give it a try. The stuffing is really beyond.

Ingredients

Stuffing

  • 6 thick slices brioche loaf, cut into large cubes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 4 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, halved, sliced crosswise, and washed well, finely diced
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup pistachios, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • lobe (about 6 ounces) foie gras, cut into large cubes
  • ½ fresh black truffle, shaved, or 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 fresh pheasants or chickens
  • 2 thick-cut bacon slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Make the stuffing: Place the bread cubes in a mixing bowl and pour the milk over them, stirring to combine. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onions, leeks, fennel, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are beginning to soften and the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Place the pork in a large mixing bowl and add the cooled vegetables. Drain the brioche and gently squeeze out the excess milk. Add the bread to the bowl along with the pistachios, thyme, foie gras, truffle, and Cognac and mix gently. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rinse the birds inside and out with cool water and pat dry. Place the pheasants on your cutting board breast side down and use kitchen shears to cut all the way along each side of the backbone, freeing it completely. Discard the backbones and open up the birds, then grasp the breastbone with your fingers and gently pull it away from the breast meat; discard the breastbones. (You can also ask your butcher to “spatchcock” the pheasants for you if you prefer.)

Fill each bird loosely with stuffing. Reshape the bird around the stuffing and top with a strip of bacon. Use kitchen string to tie it in a neat bundle. Rub the birds all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place in a large roasting pan.

Roast uncovered for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the meat (not the stuffing) registers 160°F. Let the birds rest for 15 minutes before serving halved or sliced crosswise.

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