Pheasant, Pigeon and Woodcock Wild Game Stew Recipe
Wild game of any type is often considered to be food for a rich man's table and beyond the reach of a majority of people. While this may once have been the case in urban areas at least, it need not be so in the modern era. Farming of wild game, improved preservation and storage techniques for the prepared meats and faster and more efficient transport options have all combined to help make wild game available at an affordable price to more people than ever before. What should be noted is that wild game must be cooked very carefully. It can easily be spoiled and rendered tough and inedible if prepared inappropriately but a stew like this is an almost foolproof option while being incredibly tasty at the same time.
Pigeon and woodcock are quite strong flavoured types of wild game, as can in part be evidenced by their colour. Pheasant on the other hand has a milder flavour, perhaps being almost the chicken of the wild game meat genre. Combining these three meats in one game stew makes for a contrast of colours and flavours to truly delicious effect.
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 2 hours 15 min
Yields: 4 servings
- 4 pheasant breast fillets
- 4 pigeon breast fillets
- 4 woodcock breast fillets
- 1 cup plain/all purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 2 medium to large carrots
- 2 large sticks of celery
- 1 medium red onion
- 1½ pints fresh chicken stock
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 large baking potatoes
The majority of the ingredients in this dish are required within the first few minutes of starting cooking so it is a good idea to have them prepared and ready for use before you get the pot on the stove. The carrots and celery sticks should be topped and tailed, washed very well and patted dry with kitchen paper. The carrots can then be sliced in to half inch thick discs and the celery sticks chopped to around three-quarter inch pieces.
Peel the red onion and cut it in half down through the central core. Lay each half in turn flat on your chopping board and slice across the way that each slice can later be separated in to strands.
The wild game should be chopped to small bite-sized chunks around three-quarters to one inch square cubes.
Put the flour in a deep plate or large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Carefully stir to evenly combine the seasonings. The idea is to dredge the wild game in the flour before browning in hot oil. Due to the quantity of meat used in this recipe, this task will be performed in three batches to ensure even browning and sealing.
Pour three or four tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a very large pot, or - as in this instance - a Dutch oven and bring it up to a medium to high heat before adding the first batch of game meat to the flour. Use your hands to turn the meat around in the flour then lift it out, shaking it gently and allowing the excess flour to escape through your latticed fingers. Add the game to the hot pot.
Stir the meat around in the hot oil with a wooden spoon until evenly browned and sealed. This should only take a couple of minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the meat, let it drain briefly over the pot and transfer it to a large holding dish. Repeat for batches two and three, adding a little more oil if and when it should prove necessary.
Ensure there is still plenty of oil covering the base of the pot (adding a little more if necessary) before adding the onion strands and sauteing for just a minute or so until softened.
Add the carrot and celery to the pot and stir around for thirty seconds or so just to caramelise slightly.
The wild game pieces should now be returned to the pot and stirred through the vegetables.
Pour the chicken stock in to the pot and ensure the solids are comfortably covered. Stir well and add the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Cover with the lid and simmer for an initial one hour.
When the hour of the initial cooking time is up, wash the potatoes but leave them unpeeled and chop them in to one to one and a half inch chunks. Add them to the cooking pot, stir them through and bring the combination back to a simmer. Cover again and simmer for a further hour.
When the stew is ready, be sure to carefully remove and discard the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with salt and/or pepper if necessary before ladling in to bowls or deep plates to serve.
© 2018 Gordon N Hamilton