This unpretentious bird, cajoled into tenderness and taste by bastings of wine and garlic, and plumped out with a buttery cornbread stuffing, adds a holiday aura to any meal.
Melt 3 ounces of butter in a heavy skillet. Add diced pheasant giblets (and/or chicken giblets, to total ½ cup). Saute well. Add chopped mushrooms, about ½ teaspoon black pepper, a pinch or two garlic powder, a dusting of thyme, and an ounce or two of white wine. Saute well. Add celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock; bring to a boil and set aside to cool. Cut corn cakes in small cubes to make about 2 cups. Toast well in an oven. Mix these into the giblets mixture. The idea is to soak up the butter and stock; the mixture should be on the dry side, as the bird will be juicy. Wash the pheasant inside and out with cold water and dry well. Pour about 2 ounces of white wine into the cavity, roll it around, and let it drip out. Dust the cavity with more black pepper and garlic powder. Stuff the bird with the corn mixture and truss it up. Tie the legs to the tail and the wings to the body. Rub the bird with more black pepper, part of the minced garlic, and the rest of the butter. Place in a heavy roasting pan. Place the bird in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Pheasants and other game birds are low on fat, so be careful not to burn the drippings. Bring 1 cup of white wine, 2 pinches of tarragon, and the rest of the garlic to a boil to make a basting sauce. Baste frequently with this mixture and with the pan drippings. Add water if necessary. A 2-½-pound pheasant takes about 1-½ hours to cook. The bird is done when clear juices (not red) run generously when you cut into the breast along the bone. Do not let the bird dry out. When the bird is done, remove it from the oven and set aside on a warmed platter. Working quickly, add a bit of water to the pan drippings and stir around over low heat. Adjust the seasoning with pepper and white wine. The gravy will be tasty but a bit thin. Add spoonfuls of Richard’s Sauce Seven carefully, tasting after each addition. Add a spoonful or two of jelly and stir well. Carve the bird and serve the sauce in a gravy boat.
Richard's Sauce Seven
Richard always has at least a little of this versatile sauce in his refrigerator. He not only uses it to perk up his roast pheasant, but also includes it in many of his soups and gravies. In a heavy kettle, saute the meat pieces thoroughly with olive oil, butter, sliced garlic cloves, sliced shallots, liberal amount of the black pepper, and Madeira. When well browned, add onion, carrot, parsley, mushroom soy sauce, basil, bay leaf, celery, marjoram, and salt. Cover with water and simmer for 2 or 3 hours. Strain and reduce over low heat to 8 to 12 ounces, adjusting seasoning with more pepper, Madeira, and perhaps a bit more mushroom soy sauce. The sauce will keep in a jar in the refrigerator for at least several weeks.