Sunday, March 2, 2008

Foragers' Saturday Night Feast

Foragers host outstanding dinner parties. Last night we supped with the Coras, good friends and excellent cooks. The meal included a pheasant bagged by Chris this fall, roasted with pancetta; a casserole of wild rice, morels, chanterelles, and dried pears (see recipe); and sauteed kale from their winter garden. Note the orange fat layering the pheasant. You don't find that on domesticated birds. Good wine and conversation flowed and many foraging plans were laid for spring. Big thanks to the Coras for a memorable feast.

Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing (thanks to Lori Cora)

2 cups wild rice
1 cup long-grain white rice
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, sliced
5 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
3 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 3/4 cups dried pears, about 7 ounces, coarsely chopped (optional)
3/4 to 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Melt 4 tbsp butter in heavy pot over medium heat. Sauté onions until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions to large bowl. Melt remaining 4 tbsp butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Sauté mushrooms and 1 tbsp thyme. Add to bowl with onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring broth, 1 tbsp thyme, and 2 tsp sage to boil in large, deep saucepan. Mix in wild rice; return to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Mix in white rice; cover and simmer until all rice is tender and almost all liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes longer. Stir in caramelized onions and mushrooms, remaining 1 tbsp thyme, and 1 tsp sage. Stir in pears, if desired. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup parsley.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter glass baking dish. Transfer stuffing to dish and cover with buttered foil. Bake until heated through, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly crisp and golden, another 15-20 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley over stuffing and serve.

Red Currant Jelly Sauce (for pheasant or any fowl)

2/3 cup red currant jelly
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp oregano, thyme, or mixture, chopped (if dry, finely crumbled)
1/2 tsp Tabasco or favorite hot sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients. Place over medium heat and cook until jelly is melted. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Keeps refrigerated up to a month.

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