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Memories of Thanksgiving pheasant

November 26, 2007 at 05:52 PM

The old man wanted a pheasant for Thanksgiving. I was living in northeast Iowa at the time and it was two weeks before Thanksgiving. I had only been pheasant hunting once the entire season and without success. I had hunted rabbits a few times, but I had spent the bulk of my time chasing turkeys with a bow. I would have at least four days off to try and get him a bird, and give up everything else.

Thank goodness I was in Iowa. If I had been living in Illinois, this might have been a tough chore, especially when you only have access to public ground. I finally got him that bird on my last day off. In two days I would be driving to Illinois with the family for a four-day long weekend.

Knowing that a giant turkey would be cooking on Thanksgiving morning, I opted to cook the pheasant the day before the big feast. Could I be starting a new tradition in the Wright family? A traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and a wild-game feast the day before?

The Wrights would not be the only ones having some type of wild game on this holiday. Many families would be doing the same thing. I had originally hoped that I could get that wild turkey bagged before I arrived in Illinois. We had the wild pheasant but we would have to settle for the store-bought turkey. Going a bit wild brings back the true spirit of the holiday.

My dad was looking at another side of that pheasant. Things he had heard or read about, a romantic feel for the bird. He wanted to give it a try and I brought him one home.

The pheasant is native to Asia and it wasn’t until 1890 that the first successful release of the bird occurred in Illinois, near Macomb. Then in 1904, Illinois became the first state in the nation to open a state-operated game farm. This farm helped in the release of over 36,000 pheasants soon after. The birds prospered for a short time. The early 1950’s were considered the population peak of pheasants in the state. It was estimated that there were nearly 160 pheasants per square mile. Since that time, however, the depletion of habitat and stronger predator populations have caused a drastic decline in pheasant populations.

The smell coming from the kitchen tempted the taste buds. I was glad that I didn’t try to mix the smell of the pheasant with the smell of the turkey the following day. The pheasant needs to be appreciated all on its own. It is a glorious, wondrous, succulent aroma. And the flavor…..oh, the flavor.

Here is one of my favorite recipes.

ROASTED PHEASANT WITH APRICOT SAUCE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season pheasant inside and out with salt and pepper. Then fill cavity with three celery stalks, one small apple, and two to three cloves of garlic. Roast from 45 minutes to an hour.

When bird is done, remove from pan and keep warm. Take several tablespoons of pan drippings and place in another pan. To that add 2 cups of a good chicken broth. Cook about half the liquid away. Then add 1 1/2 cups of apricot jam, 1 tsp. orange rind, and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer for about five minutes, pour over bird at serving. If you would like a thicker sauce, then just add some cornstarch until desired thickness.

Cooking tip ... Leave skin on when roasting pheasant. It is a dry bird and the skin will hold in juices. Baste bird often to help maintain moisture. If you skin the bird, then wrap several slices around breast to help hold in moisture.

Pheasants will not be large, so one bird will feed two hungry adults.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was published Nov. 21, 2007 in the Canton Daly Ledger.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I’ve always wanted to experience a thanksgiving, i’ve got no clue about it since I live in Australia.

Posted by No Sugar No White Flour Dieting on 03/05 at 06:48 AM

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