By Chris Jodlowski of Harvesting Nature
From the Chef: There’s a strong temptation to breast out upland birds in the interest of conserving the time and tedium involved in plucking. For my money, the time is well worth it for essentially doubling the meat you’re getting out of a bird. A tip for saving both time and a little effort is simply skinning the birds. A few cuts in the right places and you can slip an entire bird out of its feathery jacket. Sure, you’re losing any skin you would have had left over after plucking – and skin can be both useful and delicious – but if you’re mostly inclined to breasting out anyway, you’ve lost nothing and gained a pair of legs to cook.
Legs and thighs from 4 pheasant, skinned
1 Tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cups shredded cheddar or jack cheese
1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
12 poblano peppers, stems cut out and hollowed of seeds
2 cups of salsa verde (jarred or homemade)
In a bowl, mix together the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander, and salt. Dust each of the pieces of pheasant in the seasoning and place them in a slow cooker. Dump any remaining seasoning in, then pour in the chicken stock. Add water as needed to cover the pieces in liquid. Cook on low for 4 hours.
When the pheasant is done, remove the pieces and set aside to cool, saving the liquid from the slow cooker.
Cook the rice according to directions on the package but instead of water that’s called for, use the same amount of seasoned cooking liquid from the slow cooker and omit any salt that’s called for. When the rice is done cooking remove from heat and stir in ½ of the cilantro.
Once the pheasant has cooled enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone and shred it with a fork being careful to remove any cartilage, tendons and thin bones.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until soft, then stir in shredded pheasant meat, 2 cups of cooked seasoned rice and 2 cups of the cheese. Heat through, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
While the meat mixture is cooking, prepare the poblanos. Using a paring knife, carefully cut around the stem at the top of each chili, pull out the stem and core and then remove any remaining seeds from the inside with a spoon. Rub the outside of each poblano with olive oil.
When the pheasant rice mixture is cool enough to handle, spoon the mixture into the hollowed out poblanos fairly tightly. Lay them in a 9×13 baking pan and when they’ve all been stuffed, bake for 35 minutes. Remove them the oven, sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the stuffed poblanos and return to the oven to bake for 10 minutes more.
To serve, spoon some rice on to the center of a plate, then spoon some of the salsa around the pile of rice. Place a pepper on top of the rice and sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro.
About the Chef: Chris is a husband, dad, hunter, fisherman, outdoorsman, cook and writer. He can be found wandering New York’s Hudson Valley and beyond in constant pursuit of wild and local things to eat and new ways to cook them, living his belief that the very best food is local food. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his boys, teaching them self-reliance and sharing with them the joy of sitting down to a well-earned meal. Along with his wife and sons, he shares his piece of the world with a dog, cats, rabbits, chickens and a pair of freeloading goats. Currently Chris is a Field Staff Writer for HarvestingNature.com