Since moving to the farm I have been able to work a great deal with pheasant, fagiano in italiano. I have tried different recipes, experimented on my own, and I seem to find myself always coming back to one in particular: fagiano in salmi. This recipe hails from a rural farm in Tuscany and will bring much delight to your fall and winter evenings!
In salmi is a traditional way of cooking game meat, like pheasant, duck, hare, boar, and venison. It is old world way of enriching a leaner meat in a richer sauce for a casserole or stew. A typical liquid used is wine or cognac, and in the old days blood was often used.
A well hung bird is best, meaning it was shot cleanly- no internal organ damage. After 1-3 days, depending upon your level of taste, skin the bird, and proceed with preparing it for cooking.
It is important to remember that game meat lacks a lot of the fat that beef and pork have, so your approach to cooking it will be much different: some things to incorporate are shorter cooking times, lower heat, more fat, and stewing (or in salmi)!
So next time you get a bird from your hunt or a friend, give this try…I am sure you will be pheasantly surprised!
- 1 cleaned pheasant
- 1 chopped onion
- 1-2 chopped carrots
- 2 ribs of chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil (add 1 tablespoon of butter for a fuller flavor)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 glass of red wine
- Cut the cleaned pheasant up into large bite size pieces. Chop the onion, carrots, and celery into desirable size chunks (I prefer them about ¼ to ½ inch for a little more bit to the stew).
- First prepare the pheasant: in a heavy bottomed pan (I prefer cast iron) add your olive oil (and butter if you want), heat to a gentle medium heat. Add your pheasant meat and cook to lightly brown. Remember to not over cook because pheasant will go dry quickly. Add more fat or a little water if needed. Once done remove to a plate (this step may take only minutes).
- Prepare your odori: add the onions and fat to the same pan you used to cook the pheasant. Cook till lightly golden. Then add carrots and celery. Cook till soft and just turning towards brown. Add your bay leaves, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir the paste up and allow to cook for a few minutes (the tomato will add both flavor and color).
- Add the meat back to the pan and stir together. Then add the red wine, cover, and cook till the meat is tender. Roughly about 10 minutes or so. Watch the heat as this is a quick dish and the pheasant will go dry and tough if overcooked. Salt and pepper to your preference.
- Place the contents in a warm serving bowl or platter and serve!
Wine: italian red wine is just fine! Try a sangiovese or nebbiolo wine.