It seems that you can get fresh asparagus of fairly good quality just about any time of the year. You just have to be willing to pay for it. In September, those of us in California can find some great “grass” from South America if we feel like ponying up three to four dollars a pound. I prefer to wait until March or April when the local product is of exceptional quality and can be found for about a buck a pound. Stop by my house for dinner during the spring and you’re likely to eat something with asparagus and, hopefully, you’ve brought a good bottle of wine. The recipe calls for two pheasant breast halves per person because my male friends are goons. If yours are not, you may get by with a few less breasts.
Pheasant Breasts and Asparagus
- 8 pheasant breast halves; skinless and boneless
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms; lightly sautéed in butter until softened – then allow to cool
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 cup grated cheese- cheddar, jack, feta, Parmesan or a combination
- 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 8 large asparagus spears, trimmed, blanched and cooled
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Lay each pheasant breast half on a flat surface and “butterfly” by slicing a sharp knife along an edge and opening up the breasts so that there is a “hinge” holding the two sides together, much like a book. Season liberally inside and out with salt and pepper. Combine mushrooms, rosemary, cheese and breadcrumbs. Lay an asparagus spear in each breast along the hinge. The bottom of the spear should lie in the breast about 1 inch from the outside edge. Place an equal portion of the mushroom mixture on each asparagus. Fold the bottom edge over the asparagus and filling and then roll from one side, much like a burrito. The top of the asparagus will be sticking out of one end of the pheasant breast. Lay each breast, seam side down, in a baking dish. Pour wine into pan and cover with lid or foil. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until breasts are just cooked. Serve over rice or pasta.
You may want to pour the liquid from the baking dish into a saucepan and thicken with roux or a cornstarch slurry to thicken. The sauce can then be drizzled over the cooked pheasant breasts.
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