Happy 2015, everyone!
I hope the first couple weeks of the new year have been treating you well so far. How are your resolutions coming along?
I resolved to start recycling in 2015, and there is now an impressive little pile of glass jars and bottles in the garage. Alright, that’s really not impressive at all, but I’m working toward it! Today I browsed the interwebs for recycling storage/organization ideas and read my city’s regulations, and my hopes are high. 😀 Rob has been in the building mood lately, so I’ve asked him to build a recycling station or tower of some sort. My other resolutions include reading all the books on my shelf that I’ve been meaning to, getting back into marathon shape, and going deeper with the Lord. Oh and I also resolve to find a job I enjoy and am passionate about. This year is going to kick last year’s bum!
For today’s recipe, I’m sharing a variation of one of my dad’s specialties: pan-fried pheasant. Wild game was the norm around my house growing up; we ate pheasant instead of chicken, deer and elk instead of beef. For some, these are acquired tastes. For others, delicacies. For my family (and any other hunting family), it’s just what’s for dinner.
Dad makes his pheasant strips with trusty Fryin’ Magic. That stuff is perfectly tasty and easy to cook with, but I decided to concoct a homemade (MSG-free) version. I’ve been using Fryin’ Magic for years because that’s how Dad always did it, but a recent glance at the label revealed some disagreeable ingredients. The good news is that I didn’t even require a trip to the grocery store to mix up my own shake ‘n’ bake coating.
I realize not everyone has unfettered access to pheasant meat like we North Dakotan hunting folk (Well, I’m no hunter really, but my dad keeps us stocked up!); you could certainly substitute chicken (or your other bird of choice) to make any kind of poultry nugget.
If you procured your pheasant in the natural way (trekking out into the wilderness and taking it right out of the sky) or graciously received it from someone who did, keep an eye out for those pesky BBs when preparing your dinner. 😉 Dad used to give us 50¢ if we happened upon a BB while dining. He’s pretty good at cleaning them, so it wasn’t a common occurrence.
I cooked probably eight breasts for this meal and found two BBs in the bunch. Let me tell you, finding one in the preparation step is highly preferable to crunching down on one with your teeth (as I’m sure you can imagine).
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/8 c. (or 2 Tbs) whole wheat flour
- 1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. fine corn meal
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt (I use Himalayan)
- 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp. reduced sodium, MSG-free seasoned salt
- dash onion powder (less than 1/8 tsp.)
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. paprika
- 1/8 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- approximately 8 raw pheasant breasts, cut into about 1″ nuggets
- approximately 1/4 c. vegetable oil (or other preferred oil), for pan frying
- Combine all the coating ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated.
- A few at a time, add the pheasant chunks, and toss until evenly coated. Remove coated pieces from the bowl, set aside, and continue the process until all nuggets are coated.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil (just enough to coat the surface) to medium high. Swirl the pan around to let the oil spread out. Once the oil is hot, add all the nuggets.
- Cook the nuggets, stirring and turning occasionally, for 5-9 minutes, until lightly browned. Don’t overcook them, or they’ll get tough.
- Serve immediately plain or with sweet & sour sauce (or other preferred dip). Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container.
In complete honesty, I liked this homemade Fryin’ Magic just as well as the real thing. It was less sweet (which is an easy fix by merely adding more sugar), but I liked it that way.
Now, keep reading if you’re interested in this hunting thing. 🙂
Typically you rise at the butt crack of dawn to leave the warmth and comfort of your home. After a brief spell of travel with smelly (albeit highly intelligent) dogs, you traipse through fields and sloughs, hoping to stumble upon (quite literally) a rooster (male pheasant). Hens are off limits. Said smelly dogs are brought with to help locate the birds and flush them from their hiding places. It’s quite neat to watch the dogs do their work. We brought Petra with us for her first ever hunting trip while home for Thanksgiving. She was so excited and got the hang of it pretty quickly by watching the masters, my dad’s two dogs.
After the hunters shoot the birds, they usually land somewhere among the mass of snow-covered brush and reeds in which they were previously hiding, thus becoming hidden again. But that’s why we bring dogs! The dogs retrieve the trophies, which then go into the oversized vest pockets.
Pheasant season is in the fall and winter, so if you don’t wear warm enough boots and socks, you’ll be fighting all the while to remind yourself that there are worse problems in the world than losing toes to frostbite.
It really is quite peaceful though, being out in nature, breathing in the freshest air. During the outing in these photos, we spotted a huge, majestic moose not far off! Ah, nature. I love it.
photo by my buddy Weston (@westonadkins on Instagram)
To leave you with a laugh, here’s a glimpse into my childhood. Perhaps you can tell by this photo, but I’m not into killing animals myself. I understand that the population control is good for the environment and have no problem with hunting, but I leave it to those who didn’t aspire to be veterinarians when they were little. 😉
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Ali, this was just delightful to read! I love your posts and I love that you are willing to try new ingredients that are healthier in with a tried and true recipe. It made me so hungry for pheasant when I saw your wonderful pictures. Also, I loved that you kept the story going with the hunt. Fantastic post. I give this a 5 *. Thanks for always inspiring us. Kitty
Ha, thanks for the five stars, Kitty! 😉 Glad you enjoyed the post!
I am a big fan of Fryin’ Magic.. but didn’t like the MSG… add to that we can’t get it in New England any longer. I found your recipe , and it’s even better than the box version. I am sharing it, and giving your blog credit for the recipe. Hope others find the goodies you have shared with us all.
Wow, that’s so great to hear! Thanks, Kathy! I’m really glad you like it. 🙂