Pheasant Alcántara Style - Faisán al Modo de Alcántara
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Tradition has it that this recipe comes from the library of the Benedictine monastery in Alcántara, which was sacked in 1807 by French troops under General Junot, Duke of Abrantes. The grenadiers rolled up the monks' manuscripts and used them as cartridges for their rifles but the one containing this recipe was saved because General Junot sent it to his wife, Laura. It eventually became a popular way of cooking partridge, pheasant, or woodcock. We achieved excellent results using an oloroso sherry instead of port and fewer truffles than in the original recipe.
Makes 4 servings.
Prep Time: 30 min. plus time for hanging and marinating
Cook Time: 45 min.
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1 young pheasant
Draw the pheasant without removing the feathers and hang for 3 days in a cool, airy place for it to mature so that the flesh will be more tender and juicy. Then remove the feathers, singe the skin, wash and dry. Cut the neck, leaving some skin so it can be tied up. Remove the wishbone and the sternum and season with salt and pepper inside and out. If the truffles are fresh, cook 4 in some of the sherry and set aside. (If canned, this is not necessary). Wash the giblets, cut into pieces, season and sauté gently in half the oil. When browned, purée. Add the cooked, chopped truffles. Fill the pheasant with this mixture then sew up and truss. Place in a container with the sherry and leave to marinate for 3 days.
Drain, season, and roast in the oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes with the rest of the oil. Baste every 10 minutes with the cooking juices and turn after 15 minutes. When golden, check that the flesh is tender even if the juice is still pink. While the bird is roasting, reduce the marinade by boiling it down with the whole truffles. Add it to the cooking pan 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Serve the pheasant with the sauce and the whole truffles.
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