dimanche 9 décembre 2012

Cook Faisan like a real peasant (Pheasant au vin)

My dear, poor, non French people,

Let me tell you: it's never funny to be the turkey of the stuffing. 
I guess that would be the litteral translation of "Etre le dindon de la farce", a popular French saying that means "being the laughing stock". 

Why do American people are so concerned about it ? The stuffing I mean. That what amazed me most last month as I was enjoying my first real Thanksgiving. Even a gourmet like me had never seen people fight over what should or should not be put inside an animal...Très très bizarre!

The whole ceremony is actually very exotic for a poor French girl like me. I guess I felt the same thing as an American girl in front of the Eiffel Tower: I thought I was in a movie! Loved it.
I tried to think of a similar celebration back in France, and it suddenly reminded me of family fall tradition. Le déjeuner de la chasse, chez tatate Giselle. And faisan.

Le faisan au vin


1 pheasant

1 bottle of red wine

1 onion or 2 shalots

3 cloves

4 carrots

1 pound brussel sprouts

1/2 pound mushrooms

It's every 3rd sunday of September. And always at my grand-aunt's farm.
The opening day of the hunt lunch is never to be missed in my family.
Tatate Giselle is still hosting it every year, even is she's more than 80 years old now. Et le menu? Still the same..

Crudités first, with the incredible mayonnaise de tatate Giselle (made from scratch with fresh eggs from the farm, a creamy, thick, golden mayonnaise I still dream of). 
Then Bouchées à la Reine (savoury Vol au vent with sweetbread, please remind me to cook and write the recipe very soon!) 
And a game meat dish: hoar, doe, or pheasant.
And who has the more make up on? The male, on the right!

Pheasant is really a natural part of the diet in the area of France I come from.
There are plenty of woods and forests in Sologne, and they are rich in wild animals.
As it's only 100 miles south of Paris, the area has always been a holiday destination for kings, princes, and then rich families who came for a good hunt.
But the French Revolution changed it all by allowing peasants like my ancestors to also hunt, in communal woods, and I guess that's what my family celebrate every year.
The guys (and some girls of my generation, but not me, I had rather read!) would go hunting in the morning and try to come back with some trophy (they would tease each other all year long about it... but my mom always said that it was more a walk in the woods...)

This bird has nothing to do with lazy farm raised animals like hens, gooses... or turkey. It's most of the time in the wilderness, and is therefore less fatty and more muscular. It can be very dry if not prepared well, that's why I like better to have it marinate in wine 24 hours. 

La recette

Peel an onion and put 4 cloves in it

Peel the carrots and cut them in two

Put the onion, carrots and pheasant in a large bowl and pour the bottle of wine

Add salt, pepper, and some laurel and let marinate for at least 24 hours.

Then heat a cast iron pan, or just a regular cooking pot.

Brown the bird in a little bit of olive oil.

Add the marinated wine and carrots, and maybe some other herbs like thyme.

Put to a boil and then set down to low or sim, and let it slowly bubble its way, something like 2 or 3 hours.

Add the trimmed Brussel sprouts and the mushrooms 20 minutes before serving.

Et voilà!

As you can see, this recipe is very similar to the very traditional Coq au vin.
Strangely I find it easier to find a pheasant here in LA than a rooster ( at the 3rd and Fairfax Farmer's Market), but you can do exactly the same recipe with a male chicken...

Bon appétit les amis!

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