I’m just about done with last season’s pheasant supply in the freezer. Last year, I made just about every type of pheasant meatball I could think of, so I’ve tried to find some other things to do with it this year, our favorite dish of late being a pheasant version of butter chicken. Today I’m grilling skewered strips of pheasant breast, which is pretty much going to be like flash cooking, as it will only take a minute or so on each side to be done. I’m starting with a coconut milk marinade and serving it with a peanut sauce made with some of the reserved marinade. Meat on a stick seems like a good weekend meal.
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or to taste ( for dipping sauce)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Optional additions: soy sauce and sesame oil
Mix the first four ingredients—coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, garlic—until well combined. Pour half the mixture into a second bowl.
To the first bowl, whisk in the tablespoon of salt, and add the pheasant strips to marinate. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Remove at least 30 minutes before grilling to skewer and to come to room temperature.
To the second bowl, whisk in the tahini, peanut butter, and the teaspoon of salt. Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving. The sauce should be served at room temperature.
Remove marinating pheasant from refrigerator and skewer strips onto soaked bamboo skewers. Allow to come to room temperature while preparing the grill.
Set up grill for direct heat at 400° using 40-50 briquettes. Unless you are grilling something else, like a vegetable first, you will be done grilling long before the coals burn down to ash, so don’t waste them by using too many. Still you need to reach a hot temperature.
When the grill is hot, brush the cooking grate with oil and grill each skewer for 1-2 minutes per side. Don’t overcook.
Serve with dipping sauce.
Even though soaked, some of your skewers will probably burn up on the grill, like mine, and you could be left with stubs. It did not affect our eating them all. I think the professional cooking sites, just brown the meat with a blow torch 😉
Of all the dishes I’ve done with pheasant, I don’t think I’ve tried any slow cooker recipes, so here’s my first (and I finally added a Slow Cooker category). It cooks rather quickly, even in a slow cooker, at just 3-5 hours on low; I wouldn’t try it for one of those all-day recipes where you start it in the morning and go to work. I fear the tender little breasts would be tasteless and dry by the end of an entire day.
There are lots of recipes out there for butter chicken, but just a few elements tie them together:
Butter—there is no substitute for this, or you have to call the dish something else
Something creamy—yogurt, cream, or coconut milk
Tomato—fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, or thick tomato sauce
Spices—garam masala, curry powder or paste, ginger, chili powder, cumin
I’m using the ubiquitous copycat recipe for Mongolian Beef that presumes to replicate a recipe from the P. F. Chang restaurant (to which I have never been), but with pheasant breasts.
This is not a low sugar version, but I tried one of those a couple of weeks ago and it was bland and disappointing, so I’m making it today as it is meant to be made, with more sugar than I should be eating for dinner. There is a paleo version of Mongolian Beef that uses raw honey instead of brown sugar, but, take it from a diabetic, sugar is sugar. Read this article about “healthy” sugar and view the funny graphic that pokes fun at famous people who know nothing about sugar, but still give advice about it. If it’s too much sugar for you, make something else. If you are going to eat it, but shouldn’t, just skip dessert and be good tomorrow. I ate a normal-small portion with two vegetable egg rolls (next post).
Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat in small saucepan.
Add ginger and garlic, stirring briefly until fragrant.
Add soy sauce, water, and brown sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for a few minutes until thickened. Thickened must be a relative term here, because I boiled the sauce for more than five minutes and saw no evidence of thickening. In the end, it didn’t matter, but if you want more of a sticky sauce, I would leave out the 1/2 cup of water, gradually adding it to the boiling sauce until it reaches the desired thickness. Maybe 1/4 cup of water would work more quickly. Eventually, you could boil out the water, but it took much longer than recipes for this copycat dish suggest. Perhaps some people have no sense of time.
Set saucepan aside.
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
1 lbpheasant breasts, sliced in 1/4″ strips
2 -3 green onions, sliced diagonally into one-inch lengths
Coat pheasant strips with cornstarch and set aside while making sauce.
In large frying pan, like a chicken fryer, or wok, heat the 1 cup of oil until hot over medium-high heat.
Add strips of pheasant so that pieces do not touch. Working in batches, fry until lightly browned—this will happen quickly—then remove to platter until all the meat is browned.
Pour off oil and return meat to pan. Stir in sauce and green onions and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until all the meat is coated.
Serve with rice or noodles or neither if those extra carbs don’t suit you.
My husband loved it from the first bite, but then sugar and salt are tied for his top favorite food group. I think meat is a close second.
Time to start in on that mountain of pheasant breasts in the freezer.
I’m always suckered into a stir fry, because it has that reputation of being something whipped up quickly in one pan on high heat. The truth is that it takes a lot of prep, from slicing and dicing all the vegetables and meat, to measuring out the sauce ingredients so they are ready to throw in quickly, to time for marinating, if that’s part of your dish. It’s the recipe that looks good on TV where the chef has minions setting everything up in advance so it can be thrown together in three minutes.
I tried to keep the prep down in this recipe by using only a few main ingredients—pheasant, shiitake mushrooms, and snow peas—and I marinated the pheasant, which gave me the time to mix the sauce ingredients. It turned out well, although my choice of pan didn’t allow the pheasant to brown as I would have liked. I should have used my regular stainless steel cookware, but I gave a large non-stick pan a chance and it just didn’t want to brown anything. Oh well, it only affected the photos.
Marinate sliced pheasant breasts for 15-30 minutes:
8 boneless, skinless pheasant breasts, sliced in 1/4 inch strips (if using chicken, 4 breasts would be plenty)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Grate and set aside to cook with meat:
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
2 large cloves garlic
Prepare sauce and set aside:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4-1 lb snow peas, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
1/2 cup chicken stock
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
When all the ingredients are prepared, heat a large saute pan or wok over high heat until very hot. Add 2-3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil.
Add snow peas and mushrooms stirring quickly to prevent sticking. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock, stirring until it evaporates, then add the other 1/4 cup and let it evaporate. Remove the vegetables to a plate, leaving the heat on under the pan.
Add the marinated meat to the pan, with more oil if necessary, stirring to prevent sticking. You can cook the meat in stages if you have a lot to cook, removing it to a plate to cook the rest.
Add the ginger and garlic to the pan as the meat is cooking.
When the meat is done, which should only take 2-3 minutes, return the vegetables to the pan and toss with the sauce mixture until it is thickened and glossy.