Monday, June 19, 2006

Fagiano alla Crema di Latte – Pheasant in Cream Sauce

Pheasant with a cream sauce, if my mother had said we were having Pheasant for dinner I would have thought we had some special guest, perhaps the king of some empire, not that I thought that a king would ever come to our house. I always thought Pheasant was difficult to find and prepare. I would often order Pheasant when offered in one of our usual restaurants and generally was always pleased. I did find that either it was really good or it was just like chicken.

When friends stopped by with a conspicuous supply of wild Pheasant I was pleased, however I immediately thought about the difficulty of preparing wild fowl and getting the taste right. His brother had hunted, cleaned and prepared them in nice little packets so straight to the freezer they went. Later on I told Raffaella about our new treasure hoping that she would have some ideas about how to cook them.

Little did I know that Pheasant is widely used in traditional Cremasco cuisine. Crema is the area where Raffaella’s maternal family is from. Her father, Friulano, loved wild fowl and her mother would prepare various recipes during the year. She knew exactly what to do with this delicacy.

A little research and I found that Pheasant was widely used in Cremasco cooking as early as the Roman Empire. The Pheasant in Cream Sauce is a family rendition of an antique recipe. Most recently, in the last 30 years, Pheasant has fallen out of favor with the local residents because the commercially raised Pheasant tastes like chicken, but a wild Pheasant is highly sought after. As Raffaella prepared the Pheasant I realized how quickly and easily it is prepared. This is a hearty and flavorful meal in 30 minutes.

It may be a bit difficult to find wild Pheasant however your local butcher will most likely have a limited supply. Forget the birds from the supermarkets; they taste like chicken.

This meal requires a structured red wine. Our choice for the evening was Barbaresco Bricco Asili Bernardot 2001. Other good choices could be Barolo or a Chianti Classico.


6 Pheasant breast
12 slices of Pancetta
2 slices of anchovy
1 carrot
1 white onion
1 stalk of celery
5 bay leaves
1 cup of Dry Marsala
2 cups of heavy cream
¼ cup (30 gr.) unsalted Butter
Olive Oil

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Finely chop the onion, carrot, and celery.

Massage the Pheasant Breast with salt and pepper. Wrap each Pheasant breast in pancetta and place a bay leaf on the top of each breast. Place the breasts in a large, oven safe, skillet, over medium heat with a little Olive Oil. Braise on both sides and add ½ cup of Marsala and 1 cup of heavy cream. Reduce the liquid for about 5 minutes, over medium-low heat. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees and place the skillet in the oven for 15 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan place the butter and olive oil in equal amounts. Dissolve the Anchovy in the oil-butter over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and carrots. Sautee until the onions are soft and lightly transparent. Add the remaining Marsala and heavy cream to the sauce and continue to cook over medium heat.

To finish the sauce, remove the Pheasant breasts from the oven, place in the sauce, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove the breast and place on a serving dish. Pour the sauce in a blender while hot and reduce to an even mixture. Spread some sauce on breasts in the serving dish and place the remaining sauce in a gravy bowl. Do not add the sauce from the skillet to the sauce prepared in the pot. The sauce from the skillet will be very salty.

Serve immediately.

This dish would be served with Polenta however mashed potatoes will also do well.


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Anonymous Brother-in-Law said...

next time, if you want them with the feathers on and not de-boned, can do!

sound delicioso

7:20 AM

Blogger a.c.t said...

Sounds wonderful. As you've probably read in some of my posts, my Grandad used to shoot pheasants so we'd have it a lot, roasted. It can sometimes be a bit dry but this sounds perfect. We have guinea fowl more nowadays so I might try this recipe with that instead, I'm sure it'd work just as well.

3:43 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Brother-in-law - For that we need to have a cook-out. The ancient Roman armies would wrap the Pheasant in raw clay, feathers and all, and throw it into the fire. Once cooked break the clay and the cooked bird was completely clean and ready to eat. They feathers remained in the clay.

Without the clay it is much better that the pieces arrive as they do, perfectly prepared. Thank you.

ACT - It does tend to be a bit dry but this recipe attenuates that a bit. Let me know.

4:34 AM

Blogger ChickyBabe said...

I keep returning to read this post so I better say something. I don't think I've ever eaten pheasant and it strikes me as something you would enjoy on holidays while travelling or even at a restaurant. Not game enough to cook it (pardon the pun).

6:50 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ChickyBabe - I also was under the impression that it was difficult to prepare and the results dubious. I was amazed to see the quickness with which Raffaella brought dinner together and just how good it was.

You will amaze both family and friends with this one.

4:27 AM


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