Pleasant Pheasant

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20 Nov 2008

It’s November now and the air is crisp, the leaves are turned, and hunting season has begun. Oh, what fun. Oh, yeah. I can hardly wait. Getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning, donning all that rubber gear that might get you arrested under different circumstances, driving to the swamps of Chelm to sit in a duck blind in freezing water for hours … waitasec. What’s wrong with this picture? Jews don’t hunt, that’s what!

Not a problem. We can fix _that_, with a little planning. And none of the inconveniences, er, pleasures of the mighty Nimrod. And the cat won’t miss my company for the day–Frack regards me as merely the organic part of her feeding system anyway. Again, here’s another recipe that does by itself; that is, you just put it together and what do you have? Bibbity-bobbity-boo! (Am I dating myself, or what?). So don’t be wary of the idea of this dish taking three days, there’s really nothing to it.

The French have a history of “faux” or “mock” foods. Foods that resemble other and sometimes more expensive foods. For example, boned and stuffed chicken thighs can become a faux breast–and in fact, you can get a lamb roast and make a fake “venison” with this same marinade below (just use red wine instead of white and marinate for 5 days and not the three listed!) grumpgrumpgrump. Here I am, trying to do something elegant and one of the testers had the NERVE to call this particular recipe Rhinestone Turkey! But this is _my_ column, and I do not have to address this base and unwarranted canard. That’s that with that. harrrumph.

Whatever one may say, this is dark and dense meat, and lends itself well to this treatment.

For a family dinner, you can leave the meat on the thighs. For company, I’d carve them–slicing parallel to the bone with a small sharp knife–unless you _really_ know your guests it’s not the bestest of ideas to watch them dealing with the last bits and one false move will have that bird flying again. Lay out the slices on the platter slightly overlapping and garnish the platter with the traditional apple slices, orange “bows,” parsley sprigs. For extra-fancy, add a bit of sugar to tarragon vinegar _and_ a few sprigs of tarragon (or a schprinkle of dried) and pour this over seedless grapes while the turkey is marinating as a side relish. I’m gonna write out the fave way around here to make a not-so-cloyingly-sweet mashed sweet potatoes below.

A note about the ingredients: juniper berries are expensive. But.

They’re in the class of what I call “necessary luxuries.” That is, things that are $$$, but you only need a little so the use for any individual dish isn’t that much. They can also be used in other things such as soups, stews, and braises. If I were you, I really would make an effort to obtain them, but if it’s truly impossible, then substitute gin for half of the white wine specified.

Also, you’re going to see here something we rarely work with in the slow food realm: packaged and prepared foods. Well, using a few tablespoonsful of catsup is going to be much easier and less time-consuming than “peel, seed, dice, simmer, puree, and then season and simmer 3 tomatoes,” and the same with the raspberry jam. This sauce is a variation of the traditional game sauce called “Grand Veneur.”

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.