When the call comes you must put everything else aside and move into action immediately. The birds were harvested just minutes earlier and need to be processed right away. Birds can be hung to age but I have not yet learned the proper techniques. I have never heard of anyone in this part of the country hanging birds to age so I have to learn through my blogging friends.
Last year was my first time since living on the farm as a child that I have to plucked and eviscerated a bird. It was a feeling of accomplishment that I could draw on those past memories to get the job done.
Pheasants have very delicate skin and plucking is a challenge. My hunter friend suggesting skinning the birds. Usually hunters only 'breast' the bird but I don't like to see anything go to waste and I want the legs and thighs.
I save the tail feathers because they are so beautiful. They make a nice addition to my Christmas wreath. I wish I could keep all the colourful feathers. Following the pheasant recipes I have pictures of harvest on the prairies.
So, the birds are ready and in the refrigerator. I separated the leg and thighs for confit and they are curing as I write. Tomorrow I will poach them in canola oil. Once prepared they will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month or frozen for 3 months. Confit legs can be served with a wild mushroom risotto. I like to make a sort of paté called pheasant rillettes and pack it into a ramekin and serve with fresh baguette.
The good news for the conservationist in me is that pheasant hunting is sustainable. I had not thought about it but only the roosters are harvested. That allows the hens to reproduce. Hunters can easily distinguish between a rooster and a hen. Pheasants are easily reared in captivity and released into the wild to boost the population. For those reasons they are a sustainable bird for hunting.
Serves 44 pheasant breasts
4-6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/4 c grated parmesan
8 slices prosciutto
Carefully score the underside of each pheasant breast in a criss-cross pattern with a small, sharp knife. Lay the breasts side by side on a large chopping board covered with plastic wrap. Season with pepper.
Combine the chopped sage and parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the pheasant breasts. Lay two slices of prosciutto on each breast, overlapping them slightly, and drizzle with olive oil. Cover the breasts with a layer of plastic wrap, take a frying pan and pound them until they're about 1cm thick.
Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat, then carefully transfer the breasts to it, putting them in ham-side down. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, giving an extra 30 seconds to ensure the ham is crispy.
Serve with lemon wedges and a crisp salad for a lighter dish or smashed roasted root vegetables for a heartier version.
Raw pheasant carcasses or leftover bones from a roast
onion (skin on, cut in half and pierced with 2 cloves)
Carcasses should be roasted in a hot oven for about 20 minutes with the onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns and bay leaf. You do not need to do this with bones from a roast. Put the carcass, bones, juices, any crunchy bits from the roast and the vegetables into a large pan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer over a very low heat for several hours with the lid on, tasting and checking water levels periodically.
When the stock tastes full and looks properly brown, and the bones have all fallen apart, strain into a large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. Refrigerate.
Ingredients are per 500ml of stock
Salt and black pepper
50ml-75ml (13⁄4fl oz-21⁄2fl oz) vermouth or sherry
30g (1oz) butter
1 diced shallot or red onion
1 handful basmati rice
1 large diced carrot
1 small potato peeled and diced
2 sticks chopped celery (or 1⁄2 bulb fennel)
Handful finely chopped parsley
Skim any fat off the cold stock, then heat it. Taste and add salt as needed and the vermouth. Bring to the boil for 3-5 minutes; when the alcohol has evaporated, keep it simmering. In a separate pan, melt the butter, add the onion and rice and then season. Sweat over a low heat with the lid on until the onion is soft, then add the rest of the veg. Now pour in a little stock and boil furiously for a minute; then add the remaining stock and boil until the rice is cooked but still a bit nutty. Taste and season again and stir in all the chopped parsley.
Now back to the fields and harvest.
This pile of durum stands as a pyramid on the wide open prairie. The bountiful harvest has been unlike anything ever seen. Along with the bounty comes the question of where do we store this grain. Some grains can be stored short term on the ground, but not all.
In our region we farm grains such as wheat, oats, barley, flax and durum. We farm lentils, chick peas and field peas. The region of southwestern Saskatchewan is considered semi-arid and irrigation is implemented in many fields. However, the weather conditions were next to ideal this summer. We had a dry spring for seeding, a lot of rain and warm weather in the growing season during July and drier weather for harvest. The results were remarkable. Crop yields surpassed anything experienced at any time in our history.
Gathering harvest pictures is a task of mammoth proportions. Every day is different. The weather plays a big part. Farms are large, up to 14,000 acres and the harvest moves from one spot to another depending upon the ripening crop and the weather.
To give you a good picture of harvest on the prairies, check this link for a wonderful array of farm pictures. https://www.facebook.com/westernproducer/photos_stream
Another temporary storage solution are these giant plastic bags. Special equipment is purchased to load the grain into these bags. The problem comes in the spring when the farmer wants to seed this land and the grain stored takes a lot of space.
|Giant pile of durum wheat harvested and waiting to be sold.|
|Tailgate Thanksgiving dinner during harvest.|
|This is a small grain truck. Mostly semi trucks are used now. Imagine the stress on the country roads with the huge trucks.|