Mesquite Grilled Pheasant with Jalapeño, Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Ring-necked pheasant breasts are partially boned, then brined for half a day in spring water with onions, garlic, cloves, bay and sea salt.  The breasts are  patted dry and allowed to air dry while the grill is prepared.

Once the fire is ready, the pheasant is painted with achiote-cumin oil and then grilled as you would chicken pieces.  The cooked bird is allowed to rest under cover for 10 minutes before being plated atop white cornbread dressing with onions, jalapeños and sausage.  The dish is moistened with glace de viande just before serving..

Mesquite Grilled Pheasant with Jalapeño, Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Common Pheasants were introduced in North America in 1857, and have become well established throughout much of the Rocky Mountain states, the Midwest, the Plains states, as well as Canada and Mexico.  In the American southwest, pheasants can be found in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge 100 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Most common pheasants bagged in the United States are wild-born feral pheasants; in some states, captive-reared and released birds make up much of the population.

Blackberry-Chipotle Cornbread

Old fashioned, locally ground yellow cornmeal, pastured dairy, seasonal berries, raw honey and smoky chipotle are combined in this variation of traditional skillet cornbread..

Blackberry-Chipotle Cornbread

1 1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 1/4 cups unbleached, organic all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 aluminum-free teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 large pastured egg
1 3/4 cups fresh buttermilk
3 tablespoons cultured butter

1/2 pint fresh blackberries
1/2 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons raw honey, more or less to taste
1-2 chiles chipotle morita

Remove the stem, seeds and ribs from one or two small chiles chipotle morita and grind into a fine powder.  Place the blackberries in a non-reactive pan with the lemon juice, water and chile powder and simmer over medium-low until reduced and thickened.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to about 100 degrees then stir in honey to taste.  Allow to cool completely.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk.  Slowly stir the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.  Don’t over-mix.

Allow the batter to stand while you melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet in a 400 degree oven.

Swirl the cooled blackberry-chipotle sauce into the cornbread batter, leaving it streaky.  Remove the skillet from the over and swirl to coat the sides with the hot butter.  Pour the batter into the skillet and bake uncovered until just set in the middle, about 25 minutes.

Brush the top of the cornbread with a little more blackberry-chipotle sauce if you think it needs it, then allow  to stand 5 minutes before serving.

Black-Eyed Bean Chili with Cornbread and Wild Texas Guajillo Honey Butter

More commonly known as black-eyed peas, this subspecies of the cowpea found its way to the Virginias via the West Indies in the the 1600’s before becoming an important Texas crop following the American Revolution.  Extremely high in protein and minerals, black-eyed beans remain culturally important throughout the American South..

Black-Eyed Bean Chili with Cornbread and Wild Texas Guajillo Honey Butter

For the Cornbread

1 1/2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour, soaked
2 pastured eggs
8 oz culture butter, melted
1 cup cultured buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

Melt butter and allow to cool slightly.  Whisk in eggs and beat until well blended.  Combine buttermilk and baking soda and stir into egg mixture.  Stir in cornmeal, flour and salt and mix until only a few small lumps remain.  Pour batter into a greased 8″ square dish and bake at 375 degrees until just done, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes before cutting into serving portions.

For the Guajillo Butter

1 1/2 tablespoons wild Texas guajillo honey
3 tablespoons cultured butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Beat all ingredients together in a small bowl until fluffy.  Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

For the Chili

1 pound fresh black-eyes beans/peas
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon more-or-less smoked chili powder
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup fresh poblano pepper, chopped
3 dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons ancho chili paste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon oil
salt and pepper

Simmer beans in stock until just tender, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, toast cumin and dried chilies a a dry skillet until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add oil, garlic, poblano and onions and sauteé until lightly colored.  Add tomatoes, cinnamon, chili powder, cooked beans and enough stock to barely cover and simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in ancho paste and cilantro and simmer 5 minutes.

To serve, ladle chili into shallow bowls and place a piece of hot cornbread in the center.  Put a dollop of honey butter over the top and serve with hot sauce on the side (I like Cholula for this dish).

“Guajillo (or Huajilla) is a wild desert bush that is native to Southwestern Texas and Northern Mexico. The plant blooms in March and early April, and it is during this time that bees seek out the little blonde blossoms that give Guajillo honey both its unique flavor and color. Guajillo honey is crystal white with a pearly reflection like new milk or a very light amber color. Guajillo has an extremely delicate and distinctive taste that is described as very light, mild, rich, smooth and sweet, with a hint of lavender. The honey is cold centrifuge extracted, retaining the beneficial antioxidants and amino acids that would otherwise be depleted during a high temperature filtration process.”  –

This post is in support of Meatless Monday, whose goal it is to goal is to help reduce
meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.

Adobado Turkey with Pomegranate Molasses and Cornbread Dressing

Turkey breast tenderloin, brining mixture, dried chili blend, cornmeal, non-refined sugar, butter, pomegranate, cilantro and lemon juice.

Dissolve brine mix in cold water, add chili blend and pour over turkey.  Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.

Gather the rest of your ingredients.

Prepare the turkey by coating in melted butter then rolling in a mixture of coarse corn meal cut with a little flour, cilantro and chili blend.  Place into a 350 degree oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 1 hour.

Prep the ingredients for the cornbread dressing.  Butter, pomegranate seeds, leftover cornbread cut into cubes, onion, celery, jalapeno and poultry seasoning.

Bring 2 cups pomegranate juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 cup non-refined sugar to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 hour or until the consistency is that of a thick syrup.

Drizzle the pomegranate molasses oven the turkey and return to the oven until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Saute celery, onion and jalapeno in buter until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add cornbread and cook until it begins to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Moisten with chicken stock and stir in the pomegranate seeds.

Slice the turkey on a bias and top with pan drippings and a little reserved molasses.

Crispy, tender, juicy, sweet/tart and spicy.

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