I was trying to buy quails at the butcher’s but he had none and, in a moment of weakness, I was upsold. He pulled a pair of pheasants from the freezer and sold them to me with the novel line that they were only a bit larger than quails.
I retained dim memories from my youth of my mother’s cousin, a farmer, turning up at our front door with birds he had shot but didn’t fancy eating which my mother subsequently hung in the attic. I feel they were nice when we got them. They were not, however, frozen. The non-frozen pheasant may be the better bird. On the plus side, I didn’t have to pluck them myself. [Aside, once my sister’s friend, the vegetarian, called to the house and my mother answered the door in a lab coat covered with feathers while holding a largely plucked pheasant by the neck.]
The pheasants lurked menacingly in the fridge for a bit but tonight I decided to cook them. I feared that the outcome might be reminiscent of the great wild boar disaster of ’07. Certainly, pheasant is not seasonal at the moment. I decided to create pheasant stew. I lashed in the root vegetables, bacon and red wine. I couldn’t easily source chestnuts, what with it being May and everything and substituted mushrooms. It cooked happily all evening filling the summer air with toasty winter smells in a disconcerting and ultimately unsatisfactory manner.
It’s just out of the oven and there is masses of it. The stew is actually quite tasty in an ideal for mid-winter kind of way but the pheasant itself is, alas, deeply unpleasant, stringy and tough. Alas. Still, that’s dinner for tomorrow ready all the same. Hurrah for me.