A Challenging Bird
Pheasant is not the simplest bird to prepare. It is too big to take the approach we prefer for partridge and it’s too low in fat to create a Faisan Rôti. The choice is between applying bacon on the outside and stuffing the bird. Both are not among our favourites: the bacon will overwhelm the taste of the pheasant and an old fashioned stuffing with chestnut, sausage meat, butter and onions is simply too much for us: we prefer a light, tasty cuisine. Our approach is to make a small roulade using the breast of pheasant. This is probably the driest part of the bird, but combining the meat with mushrooms will make it tender and moist. The mushrooms and thyme in the roulade support the delicate game-taste of the pheasant, making it into a most enjoyable dish for November and December.
Duxelles is an essential element of a Beef Wellington. We make a variation by using mushrooms, butter and thyme only. We don’t want the mushrooms too finely chopped, see picture, but feel free to give it more of a duxelles texture.
The right internal temperature for pheasant is between 60° and 65° Celsius (between 140° and 150° Fahrenheit). Best is to set your meat thermometer to 60° Celsius and allow the roulade to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This way the meat will be lovely pink.
Both red and white are possible. The wine should not be too powerful, given the delicate taste of the pheasant. If you go for white, then Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are a good choice. Given the white cabbage with cumin Riesling is also a nice idea. If red, then we would suggest a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.
What You Need
- 2 Fillets of Pheasant
- For the Duxelles
- 150 grams of (Chestnut) Button Mushrooms
- 50 grams of Porcini
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Crème Fraiche
- Chicken stock
- For the Vegetables
- White cabbage
- Excellent Olive oil
What You Do
Clean and chop the mushrooms and add to a warm pan with butter. The idea is to reduce the volume of the mushrooms but not to fry them. This may take 20 minutes. Halfway add the thyme. Take two sheet of foil and put one below a fillet and one on top. The former skin side of the breast should be visible. We use a small bottle to flatten the fillet. This does not require a lot of strength and be careful not to create holes in the meat. You’re looking for doubling the size, so not as thin as the veal for a Wiener Schnitzel or a Scaloppini a la Milanese. Now figure out how to combine the two flattened fillets, making sure you have some overlap. Spread the mushrooms on top, roll it up and create the roulade. Wrap it in foil and transfer to the refrigerator, allowing for the flavours to integrate and the roulade to set.
Heat your oven to 120° Celsius (250° Fahrenheit). Warm a heavy iron pan, add some olive oil and gently colour the roulade. Then transfer to the oven, add some butter and wait until the centre has reached 60° Celsius. When the roulade is ready, wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest. Make a sauce of the cooking juices, mustard, crème fraiche and perhaps some chicken stock. Steam the cabbage for five minutes, add excellent olive oil and crushed cumin seeds and mix. Add the sauce to a warm plate, slice the roulade and serve with the cabbage.
Fillet of Pheasant © cadwu
Flattened Fillet of Pheasant © cadwu
Two Combined Fillets of Pheasant with Mushrooms © cadwu
Roulade of Pheasant © cadwu
Roulade of Pheasant with Steamed White Cabbage © cadwu
A Long Time Ago
Sunday afternoon, my mother in the kitchen, asking us what we would like to eat as a starter. Would we like vegetable soup with broken vermicelli or Londonderry soup? My favourite! Londonderry soup! Monday meant school but Sunday was all about Londonderry Soup!
My mother seemed less keen to prepare Londonderry soup because, depending on the chili and the curry, it could be too spicy to her taste. The vegetable soup was more predictable.
As always in life, things change. I moved to another city, she became less interested in cooking and so here we are today: I haven’t tasted the soup for years. Time to start cooking.
The Londonderry soup I tasted as a child seems to be a Dutch and Belgium phenomenon. And a rather undefined one. Some use veal stock, others chicken. Some add mushrooms, others rice. Also used are chili, sambal, cayenne pepper, parsley, egg, meat balls et cetera. And to make things even more confusing, in the UK it’s known as a pea soup. Which is not at all what my mother used to prepare.
So we decided to follow the recipe my mother included in her ‘kookschrift’, which is a notebook with recipes she learned as a young woman.
What You Need
- Light Stock (Veal or Chicken)
- A Shallot
- Equal amount of Flower and Butter
- Button Mushrooms
- Single Cream
What You Do
Start by glazing the chopped shallot in butter. Add the chili (my mother used 4 small slices, but feel free to use more!) and the curry. The curry should be spicy and powerful. Make sure the curry is fried, allowing for the flavors to develop. Now add the flour and start making a roux. Add the warm stock, step by step, take your time, and create the soup. Leave it for 15 minutes to integrate. In parallel gently fry the very small mushrooms (so called button mushrooms). Pass the soup through a sieve. Use a spoon to get the flavors of the shallot and the chili. The soup should be completely smooth.
Now things become unclear in my mother’s recipe. She suggests adding white wine just before serving (which will add acidity plus the taste of alcohol which is not great) or single milk or cream. Milk will only weaken the taste of the curry. Cream however will give a velvety feeling on your lips when tasting the soup, which is great in combination with the spicy curry. So we added a touch of single cream, left the soup for 5 minutes on low heat, allowing for the cream to cook. Just before serving add the gently colored button mushrooms.
Londonderry Soup © cadwu
My mother’s recipe for Londonderry soup © cadwu
Ingredients of Londonderry Soup © cadwu
Sadly Antonio Carluccio passed away this week on Wednesday November 8th 2017. To us he has been a true inspiration, especially when it comes to mushrooms. Thanks to him we started to explore a wide variety of mushrooms, such as Ceaser’s mushrooms and Pied Blue. His books on mushrooms showed us the world beyond the classics mushroom recipes. Every year we prepare his oysters with sabayon and white truffle. Pure magic.
Carluccio also showed us that you need to be a chef to create Michelin star worthy food, and that you need to be a decent cook to create tasty and healthy daily food. A combination of olives, pancetta, cheese, artichokes and a glass of red wine is a great way to start your meal and will only take you a bit of shopping and 5 minutes to present the food. And reading his books: you can learn how to be a decent cook.
He said his motto was “mof mof” – minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour. No doubt a lot of hard work is required to reach that level, but let us assure you: it’s a great motto for daily cooking.