Pheasant, Sous Vide

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In January of 2015, I wrote a post entitled pheasant, in which I wrote about my shock in discovering that the man I married was a hunter. Since we only knew each other 3 months before getting married, there just wasn’t time to discuss such an important thing.

Read the post if you want a laugh. Because of my limited but scarring experience with drunk holiday hunters, my overall impression wasn’t positive. But I learned, slowly, that not all hunters are crazy fools, and that it is a sport to be respected.

I re-read the post myself, because I remember the emotional phase well – me trying to reconcile the fact that my husband owned a shotgun and shot living birds – him trying to get over me being nuts. Let’s just say that over the years I’ve relaxed a bit.

So it was just a couple years ago that I actually gave pheasant a shot, no pun intended. I made a recipe called Pheasant with Green Chiles that I’d made before with chicken breasts.

When I made the pheasant with green chiles, I wrote that the next time I’d sous vide the pheasant breasts. If the sous vide process would do the same for pheasant as it does for chicken breasts, then the pheasant would be moist and tender. So that’s what I decided to do, although I dragged my feet for a while, reluctantly accepting 4 whole pheasant breasts after a recent hunting expedition.

I cleaned the pheasants, because there are always remnant feathers, and dried them on paper towels. I seasoned the breasts with salt, pepper, and a little thyme.

I put the whole breasts in a vacuum sealable bag. I added 4 tablespoons of butter, a sprig of fresh sage, and vacuum sealed the bag carefully.

I set my sous vide at 135 degrees Farenheit, and the pheasants were in for 3 hours.

After cooking I put the bag immediately in the refrigerator. You can also use an ice bath to cool off the meat quickly.

When you are close to serving the pheasant breasts, remove the bag from the refrigerator. Drain the pheasants if you want to save the jus.

Cut the breasts from the rib bones and lay them out. Dab with paper towels to remove any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

In a skillet over high heat, brown the breasts in a little oil, just for about 30 seconds per side.

For something different, I decided to use the pheasant in a composed salad.

Along with lettuce, I added red cabbage, tomatoes, barley, and feta cheese.

The dressing was lemon pesto, which went really well with the pheasant.

The pheasant cooked this way is superb. As expected, the meat was tender, moist, and flavorful.

I cooked the pheasant on the day our time sprung forward, and so because I used two different clocks, only one of which had the proper time on it, the breasts were actually in the sous vide 30 minutes longer than planned. Fortunately that had no difference on the outcome!

Sous vide is the only way I’ll cook pheasant in the future. And I won’t be so hesitant to have my husband bring them home!

Pheasant with Green Chiles

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In my post entitled pheasant, I talked about how for years I’d disregarded the lovely pheasant as a gourmet protein, and decided it was finally time to give it the respect it deserves. I’ve had so many pheasants in my freezer over the years, but to me they were just fiddly, bony little birds to which I had no time to dedicate.

Pheasants not only require some butchering and de-boning skills, one must also be careful cooking them. Pheasant breasts, which I’m cooking today, are darker than chicken breasts, but not moist like chicken thighs or dark turkey meat. So I knew I had to be patient and attentive, which are not my strong suits.

The recipe that I immediately thought of using with the pheasant breasts is one from the Africa cookbook of the Foods of the World cookbook series. The recipe is from South Africa, and the name reflects the Dutch influence on South African cuisine.

Braised Pheasant Breasts with Green Chiles
or, Gesmoorde Hoender

4 pheasant breasts
Salt
Pepper
Butter, about 4 tablespoons
2 shallots, diced
2 ounces diced green chiles from a can
1/4 cup chicken broth
Nutmeg, to taste

Season the pheasant breasts well with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a hot skillet and let it brown slightly.

Add 2 pheasant breasts and let them brown on both sides, for a minute on each side. We just browning, we’re not cooking through to the middle.
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Place them on a platter, add the remaining butter and let it melt and brown slightly.

Add the remaining two pheasant breasts and brown them the same way, then place them on a platter. (Obviously I browned more than four pheasant breasts today, for this recipe I’m only using four.)
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Reduce the heat under the skillet, and to the butter add the diced shallot.
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Give them a stir and sauté them for a few minutes.

Then add the green chiles and chicken broth. Stir well.
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Bring to a light boil, and cook for a few minutes.
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When the liquid has reduced somewhat, add the pheasant breasts in one layer, and partially cover the skillet with a lid.

Braise the pheasant breasts for about 5 minutes. If you’re concerned about overcooking, use a thermometer. The inner temperature should not reach over 150 degrees, just like with chicken.
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Alternatively, you could also pound the pheasant breasts like you would veal scaloppine, then you wouldn’t have to worry about uneven thickness.

Remove the cooked breasts from the broth, and place them on a serving plate. Using a spoon sieve, scoop out the shallots and chiles, and place them on top of the breasts.
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Continue to reduce the liquid, then pour it over the pheasant. I also used a couple of tablespoons of the broth to sauté the spinach, that I used as a bed underneath the pheasant for serving purposes.

Sprinkle the pheasant with a little nutmeg, and add a little more salt and pepper, if desired.
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verdict: I think I like pheasant! Next time I cook breasts, I will sous vide them first. The spinach was a great addition!

Herbed Pork Kabobs

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When I started my blog, my main goal was to be inspirational to those who are new at cooking, or fearful about cooking. This wasn’t a new thing for me – I’ve always promoted cooking at home. For one thing, it will always be less expensive, and also the healthier alternative to eating out.

So on my blog, there are no really difficult recipes. In fact, my recipes are often more like guidelines to preparing food. Because home cooking isn’t rocket science. Cooking is very much about common sense, and it’s easy to taper any recipe to your own tastes.

But I happen to love kitchen ware and kitchen gadgets. I’m obsessed with them. Fortunately you can prepare good food without owning all of this “stuff.” I just happen to collect it. It’s like a disease. I finally bought a deep fryer last year, and still haven’t used it.

Finally, after begging for a long while, my family honored my Christmas wish for a sous vide machine a couple of years ago. I studied them for so long, and was sure that I wanted one and would indeed use one often. And I was right.

So I have mixed feelings when I post recipes for which I’ve used my sous vide, because it is a high dollar machine, and not typically in novice cooks’ kitchens. But I wish they were. These machines do magic work.

My briskets and flank steaks will never be tough or chewy. Chicken breasts? Always moist and tender. And then there’s pork loin. Fabulous.

So here’s another recipe that includes a sous vide step. I apologize if you don’t own one. But, I encourage you to look into one. I own the “demi,” which is a smaller version, and much less expensive than the commercial-sized machine. And it still holds a lot of meat.

With a sous vide, meat gets cooked in water of a specific temperature, for a specific amount of time, in vacuum bags. You have a choice to marinate the meat first, then sous vide. (Notice sous vide is a noun and a verb!) Or, sous vide first, then marinate. The last step requires browning the meat, to color it and add some flavor. Otherwise the meat looks like it was just boiled.

For today’s kabobs, I used a fresh herb mixture for the pork’s marinade, which you can alter to taste.

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Herbed Pork Kabobs

Pork loin, not tenderloin
Olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic
Parsley
Oregano
Thyme
Rosemary
Bay leaves
Salt
Pepper

Sous vide the vaccum-sealed chunk of pork loin for 6 hours at 140 degrees Farenheit. I used half of a pork loin, and it was cut into two pieces. But not for any important reason other than the size the the bags I had available after I’d cut up the huge pork loin.

Immediately refrigerate the pork until it’s fully chilled.
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The next day, remove the pork from the bags, trim any fat, and wipe off any excess liquid.
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Then chop up the pork into kabob pieces that are uniform in size.

Make the marinade in a large bowl by simply adding enough olive oil to the bowl as needed to cover the pork pieces. Mince garlic and add to the oil.
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Then chop up all of the fresh herbs you’re using and add them to the marinade. Add a little salt, and pepper to taste.


Stir well, then add the pork. Stir well to make sure the pork pieces are completely covered with the marinade.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 days.

On the day you’re serving the pork kabobs, get the bowl from the refrigerator to let the meat lose its chill at room temperature.

Skewer the pork pieces.
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Heat an outside grill, if that’s what you’re using. I used my electric grill. Only a little browning of the pork is necessary, so it wasn’t worth doing the charcoal process. Alternatively, you could use a grill on your stove.

For browning purposes, the grill must be on high.

Place the skewers on the grill, and rotate them until they pork is browned on all sides.

If the pork is still cool in the middle, you will need a warm oven or a warming drawer to heat them properly. This will not counteract the lovely work of the sous vide. But it’s easier to make sure that the pork is at room temperature before browning. Some people are just pickier when it’s pork. It’s your personal choice.


Just about any green vegetable can be paired with this lovely garlic and herb flavored pork. I happened to use fresh zucchini from the garden.

note: Just a tip – unless you’re planning on marinating pork for just a couple of hours, no acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, should be included. It will break down the meat too much.