Forget the machismo of camo or the metrosexual ascot, venturing out into the field, to hunt pheasants, my grandfather’s attire was a well-worn pair of hiking boots, a cap, and field coat; his partner was not a case of beer or a silenced cell phone but his dog and his thoughts.

To swim in his stream of conscientiousness whilst walking in the woods, one would not be accosted by water cooler drama, the state of the markets, or worries of hearth and home, but rather a registry of minute changes in the wind, the pleasure of autumn mist on his face, and his dog’s every nuance.   Tenderly walking, he astutely notices nature’s wonders all around him: the crackle of a leaf beneath his boot, the rusty, dried flowers of summer long gone, the scat of one animal, the track of another, the flight pattern of the birds over the dell.  Maneuvering the woods with keen awareness and practiced patience, my grandfather relishes nature as he waits for the dog to flush the bird. 

With reverence, I serve my family, Pheasant Stew.

A Pheasant Stew 

The day before 
Marinate pheasant in olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper & slightly crushed juniper berries for 20 min.

Cook on rotisserie grill/ or roast (turning frequently) until thermometer registers 165 degrees.  Let rest 15-20 min.


The following day
Cut up 1/3 lb uncured, pepper bacon with kitchen shears into 1” pieces.  Add a 2-3” deep skillet over medium-low heat with 2 shallots sliced into rings.  Sweat slowly.

Meanwhile, tear the pheasant into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the skin up with the scissors, and add to the bacon & shallots.

Make rice- we think a mix of wild and white long grained would be best.

When the shallots are thoroughly caramelized & bacon properly cooked, add some leftover white wine from last night (about 1/3 c) to deglaze the pan, scrape up, wait for it to nearly evaporate.  Add a handful and a half of dried cranberries & the pheasant to the skillet.  Add enough good quality chicken stock to just cover.  Bring to a simmer.

In a small pan, boil one part chicken stock to one part balsamic vinegar, swirling constantly (anywhere from 3T each to 1/4 c).  When it becomes a syrup, turn off the heat, and swirl in 1-2 T cold butter.  Set aside.

The sauce should have concentrated a bit & decreased.  Thicken the pheasant gravy with cornstarch.  I like to pull off about 1/3 c into a ramekin & whisk in 2 heaping T of cornstarch.  Slowly drizzle this mixture and stir to thicken.  You won’t need to use it all & if you like more gravy add more broth if necessary.

Throw 2 handfuls of walnut halves into the stew (Don’t be afraid!  Just do it!!) 
Dump 10 oz of fresh (salad quality) baby spinach on top & cover with a heavy lid for a few minutes until just wilted.

Scoop your rice onto a platter, leaving a well in the center.  Stir stew together, and pour onto the platter.  Drizzle balsamic syrup over the top.

Serve immediately!

This recipe comes from Little Red aka Lacey one great cook and writer!

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