What seems like eons ago, I made the fateful dish, braised pheasant with mushrooms and bacon, which I hated. So much so that it took me 9 months to work up the courage to make Nigella's 2nd pheasant stew, the "pheasant with gin and IT". The last time I made pheasant stew, I made it in full quantities (i.e., THREE whole freakin' pheasants), which, at $25/kilo, cost an absolute bomb. This time, wary from my first pheasant experience, I did it in vastly reduced quantities (i.e. only 1 pheasant), and was much more careful about following the recipe to the letter.
363. Pheasant with Gin and IT (Dinner)
This one is, in fact, pretty much the same as the hideous braised pheasant, with a couple of differences - notably, the pheasant is marinated before being cooked, and gin and red vermouth are used instead of red wine.
This is a stew to be made in stages, over a few days. The first step is to joint the pheasant, and put it in its marinade. I probably could have got the butcher (from Prahran Market) to do it for me, but I was tired that day, and I do love a challenge.
WARNING: This process is quite disgusting. Don't look at the photos if you're not comfortable with pheasant carnage.
I used a combination of kitchen scissors, a sharp knife, and my mum's biggest meat cleaver. I must admit, throughout the whole process I felt very badass - like Lucy Liu in Kill Bill, including, disgustingly enough, a delightful incident of pheasant blood splattering across my face.
But back to the task at hand. I took the pheasant out of its bag, only to discover that its head was still attached!! GROSS.
The first thing I had to do was cut the head off. Then, remembering Nigella's instructions for spatchcocking poultry (haha, "spatchCOCKing"), I cut down either side of the backbone.
Then, I slowly worked the bones away from the meat, to loosen what I would describe as a maryland piece from one side. Then I did the other side.
Next I cut the 2 breast pieces away. And there it was, 4 pieces of pheasant!
Here are the guts. I admit that there are a lot of guts and offcuts. I assume that with skill and experience, I'll be able to do this much faster, and with a lot less wastage, like a real butcher would.
I washed the pheasant pieces, and submerged them in the marinade - gin, Martini Rosso, an orange, peppercorns, juniper berries, an onion, bay leaves and oil.
You have to leave this for 24 hours before cooking it.
I stashed the clingfilmed bowl in the fridge, and set about cleaning my (now very messy) kitchen. And you know, after 15 minutes of concerted dishwashing and bench-scrubbing, it was eerily quiet. You'd have never known about the carnage that had taken place only minutes before...
Check back tomorrow for the remainder of the cooking and eating!