Sunday, February 22, 2009

Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage and Wild Rice (Page 405)


  • Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. The first step was cooking some wild rice briefly in oil, then baking it in chicken stock until tender. In the meantime, I cooked bacon until it was crispy, then cooked some sliced onions and red cabbage in the bacon fat. I added red wine vinegar and salt to the vegetables and set them aside. I then butchered the pheasant, putting its neck, wing tips, and backbone in a small saucepan, and cutting the remaining bird into four serving pieces. I simmered the backbone etc... in water to form a quick stock. While that was simmering, I rubbed the pheasant with salt, pepper, and allspice, then seared the pheasant pieces in oil. After I removed the bird from the pan, I cooked raisins and shallots in the fat remaining in the skillet. I added (in several steps) gin, white wine, tomato paste, a rosemary sprig, and salt and pepper. Then I put the pheasant back in, covered the dish and braised it in the oven (by this time the rice was out of the oven). The Book said to braise the dish until the breasts were cooked through 15-20 minutes, and then remove the breasts and continue to braise until the legs and thighs were cooked through, another 15- 20 minutes. I took the dish out the first time after 17 minutes in the oven, and not only were the breasts cooked through, they were overcooked! And the legs and thighs were also done. It would have been better had I not cooked it so long. I stirred minced rosemary and halves of grapes into the braising liquid to form a sauce. I stirred the bacon and cabbage into the rice, and served it alongside the pheasant, topped with the sauce.

Overall this dish was pretty tasty. The meat was a bit dry because it was slightly overcooked. But it had a good flavor to it. I always prefer crispy skin on my poultry to not-so-crispy skin, and because this dish was braised the skin was not crispy, so that wasn't ideal. The sauce was very interesting -- gin definitely isn't a typical cooking liqueur, but it gave the sauce a very unique flavor. The wild rice/cabbage/bacon side dish was quite good. I love wild rice, and serving it alongside a game bird seemed very appropriate. This dish wasn't as good as some of the poultry dishes we have had lately, but it was still satisfying and tasty.

The recipe in The Book is almost the same as the recipe here, except the one in The Book has more liquid in the wild rice (1 1/2 cups chicken stock) than the one online, and the one online has a shorter cooking time for the bird than the recipe in The Book (which would have improved matters!).

A friend of mine from high school found me on Facebook recently and then sent me a message asking me what I have been up to lately. I told him how I had finished my PhD and am now a post-doc in math. He sent me back a message where he called me a "math nerd." I didn't respond to his message for a few days because I was swamped. In the meantime, I think he was worried he had offended me with the math nerd comment. He wrote to me again, apologizing for saying that. When I got his apology, it made me laugh -- I hadn't even registered that being called a math nerd could possibly be insulting. If anything, I think of that as a complement. I love math -- it's my job. If people see that I am excited about math and personally committed to it, that makes me happy! So, yes, I am a math nerd! For instance, consider this weekend. Yesterday, I spent the day at a math conference at Purdue, leaving home at 6:45am and arriving back after 9pm. It was great fun -- I heard some interesting talks, saw some friends I don't see too often... I was more than happy to spend my Saturday in that way. Today I spent the afternoon in my office, preparing my course and working on one of my research projects. It was a lovely weekend -- but I can certianly imagine that to someone outside math that might sound pretty miserable! So, yes, I am a math nerd -- and proud of it!

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