Roasted pheasant manicotti with tomato besciamella sauce

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Few menu items can top noodles stuffed with cheese and roasted pheasant. This Italian-American favorite serves as a well-earned reward for any pheasant hunter after a long day spent bagging roosters. Open a bottle of red wine and enjoy the simmering smells of a homemade tomato besciamella sauce—a fusion of French cuisine and Italian staples. Or, simplify this recipe by employing your favorite store-bought marinara sauce to coat these delectable pasta tubes.    
 
Makes four servings.
 

Ingredients   

Tomato besciamella sauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 shallot, cut julienne
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 4 on-vine tomatoes, approximately 1 pound, roasted
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 gloves fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon malt vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Manicotti stuffing
  • 1 8-ounce box manicotti noodles, 14 tubes
  • 12 ounces pheasant, roasted and shredded
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chives, diced
  • Egg white from 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt, granulated garlic, paprika, white pepper
Manicotti toppings
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade cut
 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly salt and pepper pheasant breast and place on roasting pan. Remove stems from tomatoes, spray with baking spray and place in baking dish. Put both pheasant and tomatoes in oven. Cook for 16 minutes or until internal temperature of pheasant reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit and skin easily peels from tomatoes. Let both pheasant and tomatoes cool before hand-shredding pheasant and peeling skin from tomatoes.
 
In a medium pot, add milk and chicken stock, along with parsley, julienne shallot, peppercorns and bay leaf. Heat on low, just below simmer. Once liquids are thoroughly heated, approximately 25 minutes, begin roux in a large pot by mixing flour and canola oil in pot and heating on medium. Stir often and cook to a pale brown, approximately 7 minutes. Once roux is ready, pour milk and chicken stock through a sieve into roux pot. Stir thoroughly, again careful not to burn. Turn heat to simmer. Begin boiling another large pot of water for noodles. Be certain to add half cup of salt to water.
 
Blend roasted tomatoes with garlic and salt in food processor or blender. Add to roux mix, stir thoroughly. Add red wine, lemon juice, malt vinegar, brown sugar and can of crush tomatoes to large pot, stir thoroughly and continue to simmer for half hour.
 
In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg white, spices, hand-shredded pheasant and chives. Once water is boiling, add manicotti noodles. Stir noodles often and cook for approximately 7 minutes, since noodles should have al-dente texture.
 
When noodles are finished, drain water and rinse with cold water to cool noodles. Stuff each noodle with ricotta mix. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray and place stuffed noodles in dish. Top with sauce and shredded mozzarella and bake for 20 minutes. Optional: add fresh basil, chiffonade cut, overtop when serving.
 
 
Former line cook and passionate denizen of the outdoors, Jack Hennessy is the author of the blog “Braising the Wild.” He lives with his wife in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @WildGameJack or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BraisingtheWild.