Cooking with Beer: Poachers Pheasant Stew
entered the cooking competition with beer, pheasant is one of my favorite meats and this stew sounds absolutely delicious. You can see the full version on Ale is good, which also has some other delicious-sounding recipes there.
- pheasants – joined in breasts, legs and wings
- 150g non-smoking bacon lardons 4
- finely chopped brown onion
- 2 pints of Poacher’s Choice (or a beer of your choice)
- celery – cut into 1″ long slices 250
- carrots: peeled, with the top of the tail and cut into pieces
- 175 g mushrooms: just wipe away any obvious dirt
- 4 garlic cloves – crushed, peeled and sliced
- juniper berries – crushed with the plane of a knife
- 1 teaspoon ground fresh black pepper
- bay leaves – dried is fine,
- 10 large leaves of fresh sage – clean and cut into thin ribbons
- 500g shallots – whole and peeled
- Enough” game broth – chicken broth will serve
light olive oil (or any frying oil) 450 g
fresh is better
This is about what I put in my stew. As with any stew the ingredients are very flexible. If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out! Or you could throw some potato or parsnip. Do you get the idea?
Somewhat more optional ingredients are:
- 2 teaspoons golden sugar – added to counteract some bitterness
- 25 g flour and butter to make a roux to thicken the sauce
it comes to stewing, my weapon of choice is the heavy glazed iron variety. The stew made with the above ingredients fills a 28 cm Chasseur, which is about 26 liters.
Fry the lardons in the pot until golden brown, then remove them to a bowl leaving the fat in the braised pot.
Brown the pheasant pieces in batches, this is to make sure that the meat is not crammed into the pan. After browning the first batch, add a tablespoon of oil to the pot between batches. For the amount of pheasant in this recipe I browned the meat in 4 batches. After browning each batch, remove the meat to the bowl with the lardons.
Place the finely diced onion in the pot and simmer until golden brown, begin to decompose, and then become fairly soft. While the onion is frying, use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the golden pheasant’s roasted goodness from the bottom of the pot.
Before the onion begins to stick, pour the beer, then add the meat, chopped vegetables, bay leaves and juniper berries. Make sure everything is well packaged and then cover the stew with the game stock until everything is covered.
Simmer gently, there should be the slightest movement visible and few, if any, bubbles, until “ready” (i.e. the meat is tender, but does not disintegrate!) My stew was simmering for about 3 hours, which is probably longer than necessary. About 30 minutes before you think the stew is ready, brown the peeled shallots in a pan with a tablespoon of oil and put them in the stew. (If you put them at first, they will simply turn into porridge.) Introduce the sliced garlic now as well.
Want to thicken the sauce? The onion will have already lent you some body, any additional body will depend on your stock. I like a stew to have a pretty sticky sauce, so I thickened this one a bit. To do this, strain the stew through a large strainer or chinois, collecting the sauce in a bowl. Put the sauce back in the pot and bring it to a simmer. In a small skillet over low heat, melt 25 g of butter and then add 25 g of plain white flour. Stir with a small whisk to combine the flour and butter well and, stirring all the time, cook gently for one minute. Now, one ladle at a time, beat the sauce in this roux. Initially it will thicken drastically, but don’t worry, it will dilute as you add sauce. To avoid lumping, be careful to beat each ladle of broth thoroughly and evenly. Continue until you have about a pint or two of thick sauce, or the consistency of double cream. Finally, beat the thick sauce in the sauce left in the braised pot. (Run the thick sauce through a sieve if you think you might have ended up with lumps.) Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, beating gently all the time. When complete, add the stewed meat and vegetables back to the thick sauce.
We’re done! Serve with some boiled potatoes, crusty bread, rice, anything really! Served immediately, this stew had a slight bitterness, which led me to add a little sugar (in the optional ingredients above). However, this bitterness almost disappeared after 24 hours in the fridge and I would say the stew was at its best 2 days after cooking. Served in the photo below with some steamed red potatoes and a furtive addition of fried bunny liver and kidneys (I had been sorting some bunnies that night).
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