- 3 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) farm-raised pheasants*, innards removed, wing tips and necks trimmed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 orange, halved
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in half
- 1/4 cup Madeira
- 1 cup rich chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
- Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
Season the cavities and the outside of each pheasant liberally with salt and pepper. Divide the chopped onion and carrot equally among the cavities of the pheasants. Squeeze the juice from both halves of the orange and set aside. Cut 1 of the squeezed halves into 3 pieces, and tuck inside of the cavities along with the veggies. Insert 1sprig of thyme into the cavity of each pheasant.
Arrange the pheasants in a large roasting pan, breast sides up. Lay 2 strips of bacon over the top of each pheasant, cutting the bacon into pieces if necessary to cover as much of the pheasant as possible. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove the bacon strips and continue roasting for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear. (It is important to not overcook the pheasants, as they are very lean birds.) Remove the pheasants from the oven and transfer to a serving platter, loosely tented, while you make the sauce.
Using a spoon, carefully remove as much extra fat from the pan as possible. Place the roasting pan over high heat and, when hot, deglaze with the reserved orange juice and Madeira, using a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When the orange juice and Madeira have reduced by half, add the chicken stock and continue to cook until sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 to 4 minutes. Swirl in the butter and remove from the heat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Remove the back bone from each pheasant, then cut along the breast bone to divide the birds into two halves. Serve 1/2 pheasant per person, napped with some of the sauce and with some of the Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding.
*Note: Wild pheasants are usually smaller birds, and thus will cook in less time. If you are using wild pheasants, please adjust the recipe accordingly.
Emeril's Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding:
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup sliced yellow onions
- 10 ounces assorted wild mushrooms, such as oyster, shitake, chanterelles, wood ear, or porcini
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup lager beer
- 5 large eggs
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 3/4 cup grated Gouda cheese
- 3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese
- 3/4 pound stale white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon plain bread crumbs
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and tender, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Essence, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and have given off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the beer and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and until the mixture is almost dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of Essence, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and whisk well to combine. Add the mushroom mixture and cheeses and stir well. Add the bread cubes and let sit until the bread has absorbed the liquid, 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with the butter. Add the bread crumbs, shaking to cover the bottom evenly. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour and uncover. Continue baking until risen and firm in the center, and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.