Pheasant dish whets appetite

Posted Nov. 05, 2010, at 9:29 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:20 p.m.

Editor’s Note: The Best of Bud is a compilation of some of the advice and recipes gathered by the late Ralph W. “Bud” Leavitt, who retired as the Bangor Daily News executive sports editor and outdoor editor in the fall of 1988. He continued to write a weekly column for the paper until his death on Dec. 20, 1994. During his nearly half-century as the BDN’s outdoor columnist he penned more than 13,000 columns and one book, “Twelve Months in Maine.” He starred in his own TV program, “The Bud Leavitt Show,” which aired on the Hildreth Network for 20 years, and the nationally acclaimed “Woods and Waters” outdoor program on the Maine Public Broadcasting System. While some of the folks Bud interviewed have died, their contributions and memories remain with us.

Pheasant with cream

Mrs. Vincent Harding of Hancock, N.H., whose gracious, old home and antique store is something of a New England showplace, enjoys dabbling in wild game cooking.

Two years ago, I stopped to browse through the Hardings’ fascinating antique shop. Our conversation led to the preparation of game birds, a matter brought about when her husband opened the kitchen door leading to their shop and in his wake, a trailing odor excited my taste buds.

“I’m cooking two pheasants for dinner,” she explained in response to my sniffing the brisk autumn air like a beagle on a hot rabbit track.

I asked how she prepared pheasant.

“I soak two cut-up pheasants three hours in water which contains 1 teaspoon soda and 1 teaspoon of salt. I then dry the meat, season lightly with salt and pepper, and roll in flour. The birds are then browned in hot fat. I place the pieces in a Dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons of water to the frying pan containing the browning residue and pour contents of the browning pan over the pheasant. Add ½ pint of cream, cover, and bake in 300 degrees for about three hours.”

Mrs. Harding discovered I was something of a cheapskate when it comes to buying antiques, but I sure came away from the Hardings’ lovely home with one beautiful way to ready a brace of pheasants for the table.

Maine duck

Mrs. James Dickens of Sullivan knows how a black duck, one of those fat red-legs, ought to be served.

Flo surrounds the duck in a roasting pan with two peeled and quartered apples, sweetening if tart, and sauerkraut. A little water may be added if needed. She bakes until browned at 325 degrees.

The only other dish that is its match, and that’s questionable, is Flo’s lobster stew. But first, try the duck.

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