Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Saturday Dinner - Lamb, Pheasant and Other Tasty Stuff

After a month-long haitus, our weekly group dinners started up again this past Saturday evening. As per usual, our eyes were much larger than our stomachs.

On the Menu:
  • Pan-grilled lamb
  • Israeli couscous with onions, topped with sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese
  • Bacon-wrapped and veggie-stuffed pheasant
  • Garlicy mashed red potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Rice pudding

We started out by prepping the pheasant, since we knew they would take the longest to cook. The birds were thawed, washed (rinsed, really), patted dry with paper towels, rubbed with olive oil, salted & peppered, rubbed with a mixture of fresh sage, rosemary and thyme, and stuffed with carrots, celery, pearl onions, and garlic. Then, in order to keep the birds moist, they were wrapped with bacon - a procedure known as barding.

Don't your arteries feel a bit tighter just looking at them?

Per Julia Child's instructions, we pre-heated the oven to 400F, put the birds in, and then reduced the heat to 350. By our estimates, their appropriate cooking time should have been 80 minutes, but it ended up being over 2 hours. If we were to do this again, I'd say we should cook them at 375 or else be more prepared for a much longer wait than the cookbook says it should be.

While the pheasants were a'roasting, two heads of garlic were smothered in olive oil, sprinkled with salt & pepper, and placed in the toaster oven at, er, some temperature I neglected to note. Tom may know. Anyway, the roasted/toasted garlic cloves were then removed and mashed in order to be stirred into mashed red potatoes. The potatoes were baked in the microwave (washed and then wrapped with wet paper towels), for purposes of expediency. They were then cut into quarters and smashed up with some sour cream, (I think) butter, and of course the garlic. Tasty, tasty stuff.

At the same time, the lamb was seasoned (salt, pepper, the same herb mixture used on the pheasants) and pan-grilled. The picture I took of it in the pan doesn't look all that appetizing, so you'll get the final plated version only. ;) Max also made some Israeli couscous, which is a heck of a lot bigger than "normal" couscous. He stirred some onions in with it, and then (once plated) topped it with sun-dried tomatoes and crumbled feta. Everything took very little time to prepare, so it was an excellent stopping and eating point. If I may say, folding a slice of lamb over a piece of tomato and a piece of feta resulted in an exceedingly good flavor combination. Fan-freaking-tastic.

Why is it that the cutest things are the tastiest?

Max's cat, Spork, decided at one point that we weren't paying enough attention to him, so he settled himself resignedly upon the cookbook ("At least I know they'll look here...sigh...").

Once the pheasants were finally done (which, by the way, occurs when the temperature at the thick part of the thigh is at least 140F and, of course, when the juices run clear), they were carved and served up with the potatoes and some quickly-roasted asparagus (basic prep - oiled, salted, peppered, roasted). Random fact - did you know that turkeys are a variety of pheasant?

After all the cooking (and cooking, and cooking) and the eating (and eating, and eating), we were fairly lazy and sleepy. As a result, when I left my camera sitting across the room, I didn't bother to retrieve it and photograph the rice pudding. Bad photojournalist... I also have pretty much no idea how said pudding was made, except that I know there were 4 different varieties of raisins in it. It was sweet and quite good, though.

And that's all she wrote. Tune in next week...


Gram Gram said...

I think I would place the blame of extended cooking time on the thermostat of your range...unless you have a seperate thermostat. You know....the kind you buy at Target or other homegoods stores....or Ralphs or Vons or some other grocery store. If not that then blame the bird.

Momentary Academic said...

What marvelous food. I need for someone to cook for me--just like that.

Tom said...

The garlic was roasted at 400.

Gram Gram, we've checked that oven's temp; the problem was actually that there were two pheasants fairly close together! In retrospect, it too exactly the righ amount of time.

We're using the leftovers to make cassoulet next week! Yum.

Yaya said...

OUTSTANDING!!! You guys should be called "The Medditeranean Marvels"..My mouth was watering as I read the descriptions...nothing like spring lamb and garlic to make a meal! Susan, how are you tolerating the meat? And, how did you do the rice pudding, baked or stove top? My Dad was the best chef ever and his rice pudding was baked and creamy...Thank you all for sharing your culinary aventures, I love it!

Anonymous said...

rice pudding was in the oven.

YaYa & Miss Maggie said...

Anonymous....I'd love the recipe..thanks.

Tom said...

Sorry Yaya, I clicked the wrong button. I'll get the recipe from Max. :)

Game Bird Hunts said...

What a great recipe. What type of wine would you server with this spread?

susan said...

Some sort of red. I can't remember exactly what we had. Sorry, not much of a wine nerd. ;)