Recipe: Pheasant Normandy

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Pheasant Normandy, based on a classic French dish made with apples, apple cider and apple brandy, is the perfect recipe to celebrate your next bird

By Danielle Prewett

Pheasant Normandy is based off a classic French dish made with apples, apple cider and apple brandy, which is what Normandy, France is known for. The recipe is usually made with chicken, but works great with wild pheasant. 

The ingredients in this recipe bring together the flavors we all crave during the colder months in a delicious mix of savory and sweet. Compared to traditional Chicken Normandy, this sauce is a little more savory than sweet. It is also on the lighter side since there is not a lot of cream. However it is anything but bland.  The mushrooms add a lot of richness.   

This recipe calls to roast the mushrooms in the oven instead of cooking them on the stove with the other ingredients. This is because mushrooms brown and concentrate in flavor this way.  Add them to the plate right at the end of cooking so that they don’t get spongy in the sauce.

Since apples are the main ingredient, be sure to choose a cooking variety that has firm skin that won't break while cooking such as Honeycrisp, Fuji or Braeburn. You will also need apple brandy. Calvados is a great choice but if you can't find it or don't drink alcohol, you can substitute it with more apple cider.

This braised pheasant dish is elegant enough to serve at a dinner party, yet it is still a hearty winter comfort food.  It's perfect served with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and/or wild rice.


INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

4 Pheasant Breasts*
16 oz. Mushrooms (Button or Portobello)
2 Apples, sliced into wedges
2 Large shallots, sliced 
1 Large leek, cleaned and sliced
4 Cloves of garlic, minced
½ Cup Calvados or apple Brandy *Substitute: extra cider
½ Cup apple cider
2 Cups stock (pheasant or chicken)
Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
¼ Cup crème fraiche or dairy alternative
Oil for Cooking
Salt and Pepper to season


METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Season the Pheasant breasts with salt and pepper in advance and bring to room temperature before cooking.

3. Prep the mushrooms by brushing them clean and chopping them into small, even pieces. Place on a sheet pan and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. In a large, oven-proof sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over Medium-High heat. Once hot, add each breast and brown for about 2-4 minutes on each side. Remove pheasant from the pan and set aside.

5. Heat another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the shallots. Sauté for about 4 minutes then add the sliced leek and apple wedges. Cook for a few more minutes to let the apples brown then add the garlic. Cook for an additional minute and once fragrant, deglaze the pan with Calvados and let it boil for a moment to let the alcohol burn off.  Add the cider, stock, thyme and bay leaf.Reduce the heat to medium and let the liquids simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce. Add the pheasant breasts back to the pan and transfer the whole pan to the oven to finish cooking.

6. At the same time, place the sheet pan with the mushrooms in the oven. Cook the mushrooms, (flipping occasionally) and the pheasant for about 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are golden brown and the pheasant is cooked through.

7. Remove both from oven. Keep a heating pad over the handle of the pan so you don't burn yourself! Swirl the Crème Fraiche into the pan with the pheasant and add the roasted mushrooms when ready to serve.

Note
You can make this recipe using grouse, wild turkey, or even chicken. If you are using wild game, be sure to season with salt and pepper several hours or even a couple of days in advance.

Danielle Prewett is the author of the North Dakota based food blog, Wild + Whole, where the goal is to share healthy recipes for wild game and inspire others to live off the land.