Pheasant Marsala

Pheasant Marsala

  • Course

    Main

  • Serves

    3 or 4
Chef’s notes

When I was growing up, my family rarely went out to eat. But when we did, we went to Peter’s Cafe Italiano, a little Italian restaurant in Colville, Washington that was only open three nights a week. And without fail, I always ordered my favorite dish—Chicken Marsala. I remember watching Peter make it through the kitchen window, and I loved seeing the flames ignite in the pan when he added the marsala wine.

For 20 years, I’ve been trying to make it as good as Peter did, and I think I’ve got it—with one key difference. I use pheasant instead of chicken.

Other light-meat upland birds like Hungarian partridge or ruffed grouse work just as well. But if you prefer stronger, gamier birds, I recommend first soaking them in buttermilk for a few hours or overnight. This recipe works well for all ages of birds, as the sauce and meat tenderizing makes this dish moist and tender.

This dish is fantastic served on a bed of spinach or over pasta.

Feature image via Bryan Gregson.

Ingredients

  • 2 pheasant breasts, lightly pounded with meat hammer
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour for dusting
  • 2 oz. butter for browning pheasant

Sauce

  • 2 oz. butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced finely or crushed with garlic press
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped in 1/4″ rings (keep greens separate from white bottoms)
  • 8 oz. sliced brown Cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup marsala cooking wine
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. penne pasta

Preparation

Sauce

  1. Mix salt and pepper with flour and lightly dredge pheasant breasts in the flour.
  2. In medium saucepan, melt the 2 ounces of butter on medium to medium-high heat. Carefully place breasts in the hot butter and cook for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pasta

  1. Heat water and 1 tsp. salt in large pot for noodles. When water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Strain the noodles and then toss with olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other.

Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, mix heavy cream with cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch is completely incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In large frying pan on medium heat, melt 4 ounces of butter and add crushed garlic. After garlic begins to brown, add the chopped white onion bottoms to garlic and butter. Next, add salt and cayenne. (Only use a small pinch of cayenne, or none all if you don’t tolerate spicy heat. If you like things spicier, use a larger pinch of cayenne.) Toss the mix a couple times, add the diced mushrooms and turn the heat to high, stirring constantly.
  3. As soon as the pan is very hot, add the marsala cooking wine and mix well. Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is reduced by half, mix in the heavy cream with cornstarch, stirring constantly. Once the sauce thickens, add the browned pheasant breasts and green onion tops. Spoon the white marsala sauce over the pheasant and remove from heat.
  4. On a serving plate, make a bed of noodles. Using a spoon or spatula, add pheasant and sauce to the noodles. Spoon on additional cream sauce as desired.
Chef’s notes

When I was growing up, my family rarely went out to eat. But when we did, we went to Peter’s Cafe Italiano, a little Italian restaurant in Colville, Washington that was only open three nights a week. And without fail, I always ordered my favorite dish—Chicken Marsala. I remember watching Peter make it through the kitchen window, and I loved seeing the flames ignite in the pan when he added the marsala wine.

For 20 years, I’ve been trying to make it as good as Peter did, and I think I’ve got it—with one key difference. I use pheasant instead of chicken.

Other light-meat upland birds like Hungarian partridge or ruffed grouse work just as well. But if you prefer stronger, gamier birds, I recommend first soaking them in buttermilk for a few hours or overnight. This recipe works well for all ages of birds, as the sauce and meat tenderizing makes this dish moist and tender.

This dish is fantastic served on a bed of spinach or over pasta.

Feature image via Bryan Gregson.

Ingredients

  • 2 pheasant breasts, lightly pounded with meat hammer
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour for dusting
  • 2 oz. butter for browning pheasant

Sauce

  • 2 oz. butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced finely or crushed with garlic press
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped in 1/4″ rings (keep greens separate from white bottoms)
  • 8 oz. sliced brown Cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup marsala cooking wine
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. penne pasta

Preparation

Sauce

  1. Mix salt and pepper with flour and lightly dredge pheasant breasts in the flour.
  2. In medium saucepan, melt the 2 ounces of butter on medium to medium-high heat. Carefully place breasts in the hot butter and cook for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pasta

  1. Heat water and 1 tsp. salt in large pot for noodles. When water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Strain the noodles and then toss with olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other.

Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, mix heavy cream with cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch is completely incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In large frying pan on medium heat, melt 4 ounces of butter and add crushed garlic. After garlic begins to brown, add the chopped white onion bottoms to garlic and butter. Next, add salt and cayenne. (Only use a small pinch of cayenne, or none all if you don’t tolerate spicy heat. If you like things spicier, use a larger pinch of cayenne.) Toss the mix a couple times, add the diced mushrooms and turn the heat to high, stirring constantly.
  3. As soon as the pan is very hot, add the marsala cooking wine and mix well. Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is reduced by half, mix in the heavy cream with cornstarch, stirring constantly. Once the sauce thickens, add the browned pheasant breasts and green onion tops. Spoon the white marsala sauce over the pheasant and remove from heat.
  4. On a serving plate, make a bed of noodles. Using a spoon or spatula, add pheasant and sauce to the noodles. Spoon on additional cream sauce as desired.

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Pheasant Marsala

Recipe by: Rick Matney
Pheasant Marsala
  • Course

    Main

  • Serves

    3 or 4
Chef’s notes

When I was growing up, my family rarely went out to eat. But when we did, we went to Peter’s Cafe Italiano, a little Italian restaurant in Colville, Washington that was only open three nights a week. And without fail, I always ordered my favorite dish—Chicken Marsala. I remember watching Peter make it through the kitchen window, and I loved seeing the flames ignite in the pan when he added the marsala wine.

For 20 years, I’ve been trying to make it as good as Peter did, and I think I’ve got it—with one key difference. I use pheasant instead of chicken.

Other light-meat upland birds like Hungarian partridge or ruffed grouse work just as well. But if you prefer stronger, gamier birds, I recommend first soaking them in buttermilk for a few hours or overnight. This recipe works well for all ages of birds, as the sauce and meat tenderizing makes this dish moist and tender.

This dish is fantastic served on a bed of spinach or over pasta.

Feature image via Bryan Gregson.

Ingredients

  • 2 pheasant breasts, lightly pounded with meat hammer
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour for dusting
  • 2 oz. butter for browning pheasant

Sauce

  • 2 oz. butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced finely or crushed with garlic press
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped in 1/4″ rings (keep greens separate from white bottoms)
  • 8 oz. sliced brown Cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup marsala cooking wine
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. penne pasta

Preparation

Sauce

  1. Mix salt and pepper with flour and lightly dredge pheasant breasts in the flour.
  2. In medium saucepan, melt the 2 ounces of butter on medium to medium-high heat. Carefully place breasts in the hot butter and cook for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pasta

  1. Heat water and 1 tsp. salt in large pot for noodles. When water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Strain the noodles and then toss with olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other.

Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, mix heavy cream with cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch is completely incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In large frying pan on medium heat, melt 4 ounces of butter and add crushed garlic. After garlic begins to brown, add the chopped white onion bottoms to garlic and butter. Next, add salt and cayenne. (Only use a small pinch of cayenne, or none all if you don’t tolerate spicy heat. If you like things spicier, use a larger pinch of cayenne.) Toss the mix a couple times, add the diced mushrooms and turn the heat to high, stirring constantly.
  3. As soon as the pan is very hot, add the marsala cooking wine and mix well. Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is reduced by half, mix in the heavy cream with cornstarch, stirring constantly. Once the sauce thickens, add the browned pheasant breasts and green onion tops. Spoon the white marsala sauce over the pheasant and remove from heat.
  4. On a serving plate, make a bed of noodles. Using a spoon or spatula, add pheasant and sauce to the noodles. Spoon on additional cream sauce as desired.