Friday, August 4, 2017

When Simple Just Isn't, Part 3

     It's been a while since I last posted. It's not that I haven't had anything to say, I have. I just haven't had time to sit down and share my thoughts. I have been busy with a number of things, some of them have been outdoor related, others a symptom of adulthood,  but blogging just hasn't been one of them. Lets take a look at what has been my number one concern, and time consumer over the last couple of months. Do you care to guess? why yes. It has been my FBESS Ginger.

     Regular readers will remember my account of our attempt to breed Ginger last year. I posted about it in When Simple Just isn't; A Reproductive Adventure, and When Simple Just Isn't; Part 2. Well we were at it again. And simple it was not.

     In an attempt to carry forward what we think is an excellent pedigree and blood line, and maybe even begin our own line of springers we bred Ginger (Starbury Ponkapoag Ginger Snap MH) with Tommy (FC AFC CFC Frostfield Tommy SH). The thought of putting these two together excited several more well versed spaniel people we train, trial, and test with, so we were sure we were on the right track. When the time came Ginger was sent north to reside with our friend, and the pro we train with, Steve Church of Churchie Kennel and Gun Dogs in Epping NH. Steve lives the next town over from Tommy, and being friends with Tommy's owner, Mike, he agreed to help with the breeding. Tommy was brought to Steve's house, and Tommy and Ginger spent a couple of weeks together. Because we had some issues our last attempt to breed, Steve suggested rather than go through the process of repeated Progesterone testing, we just bring Ginger up to him and put the two dogs together a lot. This would let them get comfortable with each other, and when the time was right, they would tie. And tie they did.

     A couple days after the first tie, and after being sure that there would be no more Ginger came home and resumed normal life. We on the other hand were frantically trying to absorb every bit of dog breeding/whelping info that came our way while keeping an eye on Ginger for any changes. The changes were slow to come, and truthfully, we began to think the breeding didn't take, though there were some signs that it may have. At week 5 we took Ginger to a reproductive Vet where she underwent an ultrasound so we could see what was cooking. We were elated when the ultra sound revealed she was indeed pregnant and carrying 5 pups. It was happening.

     Well, we should have learned that nothing is ever easy. A few more weeks later, just days before Ginger was to whelp we went in for an x-ray to get a true count (ultrasound is not always accurate) so we would know how many to expect. To our surprise, and disappointment, Ginger was not carrying 5 pups. We will never know what happened, or why, but Ginger had singlet. She carried only a single, healthy, strong, and incredibly handsome male pup.

     Of course, puppies learn to be puppies, and eventually dogs through their interactions with their littermate. Raising a singlet is difficult, and has tried many breeders and trainers with much more experience and knowledge than we've got. So we reached out to the spaniel community. That is where we got very lucky, our friend Bev of Osage Kennels had whelped a litter of 6 only 4 days after us. She graciously agreed to foster our pup in her litter so he could learn the lessons that can only be learned in that environment.

     So, Allow me to introduce you to Ponkapoag's Bailey Island Castaway.





     Bailey will becoming home next week, and our new adventure in dog training will begin. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rabbit and Pheasant Leg Meat Pie

     One of life's greatest comfort foods is a nice chicken pot pie. At least, to me anyway. But a nice thick meat pie of just about any variety is pretty satisfying too. Not a pot pie with veggies and gravy inside, but entirely filled with meat, then smothered with gravy.  Last December, when I was in England I had the opportunity to eat a couple of meat pies; one a pork haggis pie, the other a game pie. Both were delicious. Inspired by the memory of these delicious pies, I decided it was time to pull a bit of game out of the freezer, and get busy.

     I decided I'd use a rabbit, and some pheasant legs I'd put aside. Rabbit is a very delicate meat, with a rather sweet flavor. It also cooks and strips off the bone easily. Pheasant legs are a piece of the bird many people don't use. They can be tough to deal with because unlike chicken or other birds, they've got 3, rather than 2 tendons, running up the leg. The tendons tend to harden when cooked. But pheasant legs have a nice, rich, dark meat on them, which compliment rabbit nicely.

     Having decided on which proteins to use for my filling, a plan was hatched. Now, before I get into the play-by-play, rest assured, this recipe is actually quite easy, but time consuming. I didn't make it all in one day. One day I made my meat filling, and the next I assembled the pie. Also, despite my trip to England fueling my desire for a meat pie, the flavor profile of this dish is more continental, French in particular. Anyway, let us begin.

You will need:

1- Rabbit
4- Pheasant legs
4 cups- chicken stock
2-4 cups white wine
1/2- finely chopped onion
1- finely chopped carrot
2 sticks- finely chopped celery
Thyme, Parsley, Sage
cooking oil
3-4 cups slice mushrooms
Flour
butter
Salt & Pepper
Dijon Mustard
2- frozen deep dish pie crust
1- Egg

Here we go.

     In a large sauce pan heat a bit of cooking oil, and when heated add the onion, carrot, and celery, and begin to brown slightly.

     Once browned slightly add and brown the rabbit. The rabbit should be cut into 4-6 pieces for easier handling and cooking.

 

     Once the rabbit has browned, add and brown the pheasant legs.

     Once all the meat has browned add the chicken stock, wine, and the herbs, and cook over a medium-hi heat until brought to a boil, then lower the heat and cook at a low boil for a couple hours. 
Cooking down the filling

      When the meat is easily pulling away from the bone, turn off, and remove the meat from the stock to cool. 

     Strain the stock to remove all the herbs and veggies, retaining the stock. Discard the bits and pieces strained from the stock.

     After the meat has cooled, remove all the meat from the bones, discarding the bones and any bits of tendon. Set meat aside.
The Meat

     In a sauce pan reduce the stock to about 1 1/2-2 cups, and sift in flour slowly while stirring until the stock becomes a nice gravy of whatever consistency you prefer.

     The gravy and the meat is then mixed together. Add salt and pepper to taste. The meat should not be awash in gravy, rather just moistened and coated. At this point the meat filling can be put aside and the pie finished another day. 
The Meat Filling

     
     The next step is to cook the sliced mushrooms in butter until softened and browned. Don't go light on the butter. Butter is good. You want the mushrooms to retain a lot of butter flavor.

     Take the pie crust out of the freezer, and defrost for about 15-20 minutes.

     Fill the crust with the meat filling.

     Brush the top of the meat with the Dijon mustard.

     Top the meat filling with the buttery mushrooms.

     Place the other pie crust over the top, crimp the edges, put a few vent slits in the top, and brush liberally with an egg wash.

     Bake on the middle rack at 375 degrees for 40 minutes,........

     ........and enjoy. 

     I brought this pie to the skeet club, and to was on the table very long before the first slice was cut, and everyone was digging in.