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Pheasant in a Creamy-cheesy Greek Sauce with Greek Salad

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This is no. 5 in my ‘101 Things To Do With a Dead Pheasant‘ quest. The sauce recipe was inspired by Patra Martios at faghta-giagias.blogspot.com. (Google couldn’t translate the page very clearly, so the sauce is very much a ‘based on’ creation, plus my own version of Greek salad.)

Not one of my budget recipes. Even if made with chicken or some other bird, still pricey, although the sauce goes a long way and eeks out the limited meat yield when cooking a pheasant.

Clipboard02Pheasants were, incidentally, known by the Greeks from ancient times. Originally an Asian species, they were traditionally said to have been introduced by traders via the Black Sea city of Phasis, hence ‘Pheasant’, but they probably arrived in Europe in prehistoric times by a variety of routes.

They were imported and bred in Britain in large numbers only from about 1100 AD (although visiting Romans a millennium earlier must have been familiar with the bird and may have brought the odd one over). Today, pheasants breeds very happily in the British countryside, although the majority one sees while out are captive-bred and released for shoots – there are, amazingly, tens-of-millions released each year.

INGREDIENTS

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THE MEAT

  • Pheasant (or chicken / duck / goose / guinea fowl / quail / ostrich / pterodactyl / whatever), cooked, broken into small pieces and well-fried in a small amount of olive oil with a sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning.

THE SALAD

  • Tomato – any well-flavoured ones, like home-grown, cherry or beef tomatoes.
  • ½ a red onion.
  • ½ a cucumber, peeled.
  • A pepper (any colour).
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • ½ a lemon.
  • 75 g feta cheese.
  • Dried oregano.
  • Rocket.

Sliced up the tomatoes, finely chop the onion, chop up the pepper and cucumber, break the feta into rough cubes. Mix together (not too violently, or you’ll pulverize the feta) in a bowl with a fistful of rocket leaves, a splash of the olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and good pinch or oregano.

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Put this in the fridge while you’re making the sauce.

THE SAUCE

  • 150 g of unsmoked bacon, finely chopped.
  • ½ a punnet of mushrooms.
  • 100 ml double cream.
  • 100 ml milk.
  • Good splash of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 50 g grated parmesan cheese (or the strongest hard Cheddar you can get). This costs a bit, but it is worth it for the flavour. Don’t buy cheap or powdered Parmesan, it tastes horrible.
  • Ground black pepper.
  • Cornflour.

Finely chop and fry the bacon.

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Thin-slice and cook the mushrooms on a moderate heat until all the moisture has bubble off – no oil needed, just let them bubble away in a non-stick frying pan until (almost) all the water has boiled/steamed off. They’ll reduce down to about ¼ of their original volume and have a rich flavour.

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Put the bacon, mushrooms and everything else together in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring slowly, to melt the cheese in. Add a heaped desert spoon of cornflour until it is a moderately thick sauce consistency. If it goes too thick, stir in some more milk.

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Fry a small handful of the meat with a dollop of the sauce.

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On one side of the plate make a bed of rocket leaves, putting the meat/sauce mix on top, with the Greek salad on the other side.

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Happy to say the whole thing turned out well. Most delicious. The sauce, if thick enough, can also be used as a toast topping.

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The day of the duck (£3.55)

Tesco is currently selling some plump-looking frozen ducks, £5 for a 1.9 kg (4 lb 3 oz) bird. More expensive, but 50% larger than the £2.50 frozen chickens. Having never tried the meat, decided to give it a go. A viable alternative to chicken?

Once home, removed the giblets (neatly packaged in a plastic bag inside the bird), and it now weighed 1.6 Kg (3 lb 8 oz). Also, incidentally, bought an oven thermometer (£2 normally, although mine was 75p off the discount shelf). It’s reassuring to see that the temperature in the oven really is the same as it says on the dial.

temp

I had intended to cook the duck in my relatively economical slow cooker, but even if I had chopped it up it would not fit in, so in to the oven it went for 1½ hours – the most expensive way to cook something like this. After pouring off the juices the weight had reduced to 0.9 Kg (2 lb). Dissecting the cooked carcass, I picked off all the lean meat I could find, ending up with 286g (10 oz), or 17% of the original weight. My cunning plan was falling apart.

286g

I prepared the meat for the dish I intended – the meat piled on slices of beef tomato on a wedge of lightly toasted and buttered homemade bread – by breaking it into small pieces and browning it in the frying pan with some all-purpose seasoning. It shrank even more.

fryingduck

There was enough meat, just, to make four of these open sandwiches. Cost of each one? At least £1.75 each. For my lunch had two with a cup of tea, so something like £3.55 for a single meal. Way over my budget!

sandwich

Have to admit that it was delicious, like sort of beefy chicken, and the meal kept me going all afternoon and evening. For that reason I might do it again some time for friends or family, but a replacement for chicken? No!