Friday, February 4, 2011

A Burn's Night Special, Haggis Stuffed Pheasant Breast

Burn's night has come and gone this year, and not many people noticed. I usually find Burn's night to be a great excuse to drain a malt that's been sitting in the liquor cabinet for a while, and then uncork a new one. Though the Scotts may not be known for their culinary contributions to the world, their unparalleled excellence in distilling whisky is hard to not notice. That's not to say that Scotland's most misunderstood food, Haggis, does not deserve a place in the game chefs kitchen.

Believe it or not, Haggis, though unique in it's flavor profile actually isn't disgusting. I actually like it, though it's not something I eat regularly. Since the first time I tried Haggis, I felt that it is something that could be used in game preparation. I've been planning on incorporating Haggis into a stuffing for goose, and have used it as a stuffing for pheasant. Here is that recipe.

For this recipe you'll need some basic ingredients:
Pheasant breast
Haggis (canned is fine)
Onion (shallots if you prefer)
Fresh herbs-Rosemary & Thyme
Olive oil

The first order of business is to pour yourself a dram of whisky.

All good recipes start with a happy chef, and a good malt. Now you'll want to start preparing the stuffing. Dice both the potato, and the onion into small pieces. You'll want them to be roughly 1/4" cubes or less so the stuffing doesn't get to chunky. Chop the garlic, and your herbs too. Next, heat a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan, and when it's hot add the haggis, onions, and garlic. Let this mixture heat, and brown a bit. Now, add your potato, herbs, and a bit of whisky and cover. Cook until the potato softens a bit, then uncover and let the whisky evaporate.

While the stuffing is finishing, pound out your pheasant breasts to a manageable, even thickness. You'll be rolling the breasts with the stuffing inside, so make them something you can work with.

When you feel the stuffing is ready, spoon some onto the pheasant breast, and roll. Wrap the breast with a strip or two of bacon, and wrap the breast in aluminum foil. If you feel the need, you can drizzle the breast with a bit of olive oil, or place a pad of butter in the foil packet.

Bake the breasts in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Then turn up the heat to 400 degrees, and open the foil packets so the bacon can crisp up a bit, and the pheasant can get a little color. About 10 minutes should do the trick.

You have probably noticed I didn't supply amount, or volumes with the ingredients list. I'll leave it up to you to decide how much of each you want to use. Unless you're cooking a dozen pheasant you'll not want to use an entire can of Haggis, so scale it back as you see fit. With all the ingredients combined 1/4 can of Haggis should give you enough for 4 breasts. If you aren't too sure if you'll like Haggis try either letting it brown well, or adding a generous amount of herbs. Rosemary is an especially powerful herb, and its flavor profile can easily rise to the top.

I think you will find that the combination of ingredients with the haggis makes for a nice rich stuffing perfect for pheasant, or even grouse and chukar. I like to serve this dish with roasted turnip, but no doubt it'll taste just as good with mashed potato.

Give it a try. I hope you like it.

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