Smoked Pheasant Risotto with Field Mushrooms and Baby Asparagus

Bits and pieces of leftover smoked pheasant with onions, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, Arborio rice, pheasant stock,  French vermouth, fresh herbs and lots of cracked pepper..

Smoked Pheasant Risotto with Field Mushrooms and Baby Asparagus

1/2 cup white onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pastured butter
1 cup French dry vermouth
1 bunch fresh herbs
5 cups pheasant stock, divided
2/3 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup fresh asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound smoked pheasant, torn into small pieces
1 cup Arborio or Bomba rice
pieces of pheasant skin
pink peppercorns
aged Parmesan

Toast the onions in a dry skillet over medium heat until nicely browned.  Add the butter, olive oil and garlic, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.  Add the vermouth and scrape loose any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Allow the mixture to cook down until the liquid has been reduced to about 1/3 cup.

Add the rice, stir to combine and cook 2 minutes.  Add 3 cups stock and reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, toast the pieces of skin in a heavy skillet until the fat has rendered and the skin has begun to darken and crisp.  Transfer the skin to a cutting board and allow to cool enough to handle.  Chop the skin into small pieces, add to the rendered fat (add a little butter if there isn’t enough) along with the mushrooms and saute until golden.  Set aside.

Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, add another 1-1/2 cups of stock and simmer, stirring constantly, until half the liquid is absorbed.  Add the pheasant, mushroom mixture and asparagus and cook (again stirring constantly) until the asparagus is tender and the pheasant is warmed through.  Use the last 1/2 cup of stock if needed to prevent the pan from getting dry.  Season liberally with freshly-cracked pink pepper and taste for salt (although it usually doesn’t need any).

Turn the finished risotto out onto pre-warmed plates and finish with a little aged parmesan if desired.  Properly made risotto has a creamy texture and is wet enough to slide around the plate a little.

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In Texas, most pheasant hunting takes place in the 3 dozen or so northernmost counties (the Panhandle), where the next season runs December 3rd through January 1st.  Playa lake bottoms are a consistently productive location for both ducks and Ring-necked pheasant.

Orange and Fennel-Roasted Chicken

Orange and Fennel-Roasted Chicken, risotto with green beans, browned pearl onions and fried capicola..

Orange and Fennel-Roasted Chicken

Marinate locally-pastured chicken pieces (I’m using bone-in, skin-on thighs) in a mixture of raw olive oil, freshly-squeezed orange juice, garlic and cracked fennel seeds for 4-8 hours, turning once.

Remove chicken from refrigerator, wipe off excess marinade and season liberally with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then roast in a 375 degree oven until crisp and the juices run clear, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute pearl onions and roughly-chopped dry coppa (capicola) in a bit of olive oil until nicely browned and slightly crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions & coppa to a plate, then add bomba rice to the pan, stirring to coat each grain with the flavored oil that remains.

Add three times the amount of vegetable stock, chicken stock or water to the pan as you have rice, and allow it to come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add cut fresh green beans and allow to simmer, stirring continuously  until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add the onions and coppa, stir to combine and remove from heat.  Allow to stand 3-5 minutes before spooning onto a serving dish.

Top cooked rice with the roasted chicken and pour the pan juices over the top.  Garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.

Creamy Risotto with Baby Peas, Jamón Serrano, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fresh Herbs

The finest Carnaroli rice is cooked in a soffritto of fresh garlic and raw olive oil, with Pinot Gris, homemade chicken stock, baby peas, soft sun-dried tomatoes, bits of Jamón Serrano ham, fresh herbs, cold butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano..

Creamy Risotto with Baby Peas, Jamón Serrano, Parmigiano-Reggiano & Fresh Herbs

“There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety cooked in a standard procedure.

The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion or garlic and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat, this is called tostatura; white or red wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, the heat is raised to medium high and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point it is taken off the heat for the mantecatura when diced cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier, and left to cook with its residual heat. Fish and seafood risotti generally do not include cheese.

Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all’onda (“wavy, or flowing in waves”). It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.”  –Wikipedia

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sauce of Pepe Rosso, Herbs and Fresh Tomatoes

Calendula-colored, homemade ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash and served over a sauce of pepe rosso and fresh Roma tomatoes.  Topped with Mediterranean micro-greens, tomato concassé and shaved asiago fresco..

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sauce of Pepe Rosso and Fresh Tomatoes

For the Tomato Pepper Sauce

4 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup pepe rosso (sweet Italian pepper powder)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon pastured butter
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram
1 tablespoon fresh red basil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and pepe rosso, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour, stirring often. Add herbs and simmer 10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce may be left coarse or puréed as you see fit.

For the Concassé

1-2 Roma tomatoes, cored
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, torn
pinch sea salt

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 45 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to a plate to cool, then peel off and discard the skin. Split the tomatoes in half then gently squeeze out and discard the seeds. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and toss with olive oil, parsley and salt.

For the Pasta

1 1/2 cups organic, all-purpose flour
1 large pastured egg at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons filtered water at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup dried calendula (for color and a slight bitter flavor, optional)

Combine flour and salt into a mound on a large, flat work surface.  Make a small well in the center of the mound.  Crack the egg into the well, drizzle in the olive oil and beat lightly with a fork.

Working in a clockwise direction, use one hand to mix in the flour from the inside of the well while using the other hand to keep the outside of the well intact.  Continue working the flour until a smooth, non-sticky dough is formed. Cover dough with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest 30 minutes.

For the Filling

1 small butternut squash
1 tablespoon pastured butter
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Split the squash lengthwise and clean out the seeds and any excess fibrous material.  Brush the insides of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Roast the squash in a 400 degree oven until tender and slightly caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool, then use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a food processor.  Add the cream and process into a smooth puree.

Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  When the foam subsides, add the shallot and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add the squash and stir to combine.  Mixture should be thick but spreadable, something like the consistency of wet sand.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and allow to cool.

To Assemble Ravioli

Roll out the dough into 2 strips about 1/8 inch thick.  Arrange teaspoonfuls of squash mixture about 2 inches apart onto one of the strips of dough then lay the other strip of dough over the top, pressing out the air as you go.  Use a ravioli wheel or cookie cutter to cut out individual raviolis and arrange on a baking sheet to dry for 20 minutes.

To cook Ravioli

Bring unsalted water to a rolling boil and add the calendula and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Cook the pasta until just tender, about 4 minutes (varies). Drain all but a tablespoon of water. Add torn micro-greens and toss gently to coat.

To Assemble

Ladle tomato pepper sauce into the center of a serving plate. Arrange drained pasta over the top and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Dress with tomato concassé and shaved asiago cheese.

This post is part of Meatless Monday!

Broiled Striped Cavern Tomatoes with Ricotta Salata and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Striped cavern tomatoes are briefly broiled, then drizzled with a white balsamic vinaigrette and topped with ricotta salata, fresh basil and fennel pollen.  Garlic butter-fried croûtons on the side..

Broiled Striped Cavern Tomatoes with Ricotta Salata and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3-4 oz tablespoons best quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen
1 teaspoon fresh green basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh purple basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
pinch of sea salt & a twist of freshly-ground black pepper
1 scallion, slivered

1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon pastured butter
1 thick slice bread, crusted and cubed

2 fresh striped cavern tomatoes
fresh basil leaves for garnish

2 oz ricotta salata (a pressed, salted and dried variety of sheep’s milk cheese), cut or torn into small pieces

Core and split the tomatoes across the equator.  Place in a heat-proof pan and broil until they turn brilliant red, about 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Combine the vinegar, fennel pollen, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Whisk in the olive in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated.  Stir in scallions, basil and oregano and refrigerate 20 minutes.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add the bread cubes and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a dish to drain.

To assemble, arrange two tomato halves on a chilled salad plate.  Scatter ricotta and croûtons around the tomatoes and drizzle liberally with vinaigrette.  Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.