Pheasant were originally imported to Sweden from Asia, but they are now fairly common, especially in southern Sweden, where they are frequently bred to provide game for city dwellers!
The males (cocks) are more attractive and showy. The photo above shows a male on the top of the rock performing his mating call.
The female (hens) shown above was photographed in Uppland, a province just north of Stockholm. The female is also beautiful, but in a more discrete kind of way. Her plumage provides a perfect camouflage when she is lying on her eggs in the grass.
My mother would often serve pheasant that had been hung in a shed for a week or more. The result was a meat that was far too gamey for my liking. However, there is no doubt that pheasants benefit from hanging. Wild pheasants need hanging for between 3 and 6 days, but the temperature is important: ideally it should be about 12°C (55°F). Pen-reared pheasant only need hanging for 1-3 days. Oh, and apparently it doesn't really matter whether they are hung by their feet or their beaks.
Is hen or cock pheasant best?
There really isn't a great deal of difference. The hen has a bit more meat on the breast and a slightly more subtle flavour.
Are they easy to cook?
Pheasant is a very lean meat and this means that it can be difficult to cook as the meat can dry out and become tough. Also, the thighs take a lot longer to cook than the breast. As a result there are three main techniques:
• Adding strips of bacon and roasting, taking care to baste frequently,
• Making into luxurious Fasan Wallenbergare,
Braising with apples and celery
Fasan med äpplen och selleri (pheasant with apple and celery) is my favourite way of cooking pheasant as I always find it produces a moist tasty meat with a wonderful combination of flavours. I often use windfall apples to create the sauce and garnish, as they are usually plentiful when pheasant is in season.
It makes a superb Sunday lunch and is especially nice flambéed with Calvados and the sauce enriched slightly with a tablespoon or so of cream. More…
Although the viltgyrta (game stew) shown above is made with venison, it can be made equally well with pheasant, or a mixture of game. It is one of my wife's favourite dishes and always works well!
It is made with some dried wild mushrooms (dried porcini have been used above), shallots, cream and a splash or two of gin, with some sliced carrots added at the end. Easy peasy! More…
Traditional pheasant burgers
Swedes often avoid the problem of the meat drying out by making Fasan Wallenbergare (Pheasant Wallenbergare). The recipe is based on an idea created by Amalia Wallenberg, a member of a prominent Swedish financial and industrial dynasty. The original version, called Wallenbergare, used minced veal and lots of cream to make a really soft and luxurious burger.
This version uses the same technique. A couple of pheasant breasts are minced, chilled and then combined with cream and eggs yolks before being coated with breadcrumbs. The burgers are then just fried for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
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