The almond crust on this pheasant is a great alternative to the typical fried recipe we all grew up. The breast meat is coated with slivered almonds that have been pulsed in a food processor to a coarse meal and seasoned with a variety of spices to give some added flavor and crunch. If you don’t have a food processor, you can either smash them with a rolling pin or buy pre-ground almond meal.
It’s a good idea to gently pound the pheasant out thin like a cutlet so that it cooks fast when pan fried, without the need to finish in the oven. You want be careful that you don’t heat your pan too high, as burnt almonds will impart a bitter flavor that you don’t want.
You can serve this the old fashion way with gravy (my childhood favorite), but I particularly love it with a garlic scape pesto and thick slices of homegrown tomatoes. Garlic scapes are the vibrant, curly flower buds of the garlic plant. I like to think of them as the garlic version of a green onion.
I make my pesto dairy-free, but if you’re a cheese lover you can reduce the amount of nuts and mix in some parmesan. If you take that route, you might need to add a little more oil to reach the desired consistency.
- 4 pheasant breasts, tenderloins seperate
- 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup flour (any kind)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. each of garlic powder, onion powder and salt
- 1/2 tsp. each of black pepper and smoked paprika
- optional pinch of cayenne pepper pesto
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced thick
- oil for cooking
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups loosely packed basil (2oz)
- 6 garlic scape stems, chopped
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- extra salt and pepper to taste
- Have two plates and one bowl ready. Using a food processor, pulse the slivered almonds until it reaches a cornmeal consistency. I personally like to end up with a mix of ground almond meal and coarse nuts for a crunchy texture. Place the ground almonds on a plate and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, and if using, cayenne pepper. On a second plate spread flour across. Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork.
- Gently pound each peasant breast into thin cutlets using a meat mallet. Coat the pheasant in the flour mixture on each side, shaking off the excess. Next, dip it into the egg mixture and press each side of the breast into the seasoned almond meal to coat. Do this to each breast and to all the tenderloins. Set aside on a plate until ready to pan-fry.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat and add a couple tablespoons of oil. You want the pan hot enough to gently sizzle, but not so hot that you burn the almonds which will taste bitter. Lay each breast down and cook for roughly 2 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Do not overcook. Use the back of a spatula to flat if it starts to dome up on the center.
- Serve with pesto and tomato slices.
Garlic Scape Pesto
- Combine the almonds in a food processor and pulse to grind into a cornmeal consistency. Add the basil, chopped garlic scapes, lemon juice, salt and half the oil. Turn the processor back on and start blending, pausing periodically to scrape sides down. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil until well blended. Season to taste with extra salt or fresh cracked pepper.