Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pheasant fried

Throughout an English winter, oven-ready pheasants are readily available in the markets or butchers’ shops. And because the birds are shot in great numbers (sometimes, we are told, even buried during a glut) pheasant meat is very reasonably priced.
Pheasants mainly consist of breast meat, with a little on the thighs and a worthless, tendony bit on the lower leg.
So cut off the breasts with a sharp knife (keeping the skin on if you feel like it) and pare away any upper leg meat.
Now hold the breasts between thumb and fingers to locate and extract any shot that may have lodged in the flesh.
Cook or freeze the meat, and pressure-cook the rest to make game stock for soups or stews.
Keep the small leg pieces for adding to stews or pies, and deal with the breast meat in the following way.


You will need:
One side of a pheasant’s breast for each person
Garlic (optional)
Olive oil
Boiled potatoes
Pepper and salt
Watercress for presentation (optional)

Heat a good quantity of olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Add a little pressed garlic.
Coat the breasts well with pepper and salted flour.
Very gently fry the breasts in the oil/butter mixture for 10 minutes on each side. Set them aside.
In the remaining oil/butter fry 2 finely chopped shallots until just browning.
Add sliced boiled potatoes until just browning.
Add the cooked pheasant breasts.
Heat all through and serve, garnished with a few watercress fronds if there are any at hand.

Note: Should you be given feathered pheasants, slice through the skin down the peak of the breast and peel back the skin with its feathers attached. Now cut off the breasts for this dish and throw the rest away.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Perseverance, Application and Endurance

In the post-war Klees household, in Holland, it was thought that the two boys should go to University and the two (pretty) girls get married.
My wife, Margreet, the younger of the two girls, took a job in the E.E.C., and then progressed to the Dutch Foreign Service. There she worked in the Agricultural Department at postings in Africa and Europe, recently retiring as Agricultural Adviser at their London Embassy.
Margreet’s strengths were in writing, reporting, communication, and being a charming hostess and wonderful with people.
But throughout her working career she felt that not having a University degree was a great omission. She enrolled with the Open University, studying Social Sciences and the Arts. Occasionally she took periods off from studying. Her degree course was done in her spare time during full and exacting employment with the Dutch Government. And it was done in a foreign language – English.
When she had enough credits, she was able to embark on her final thesis. The project was “Europe: Culture and Identities, Inclusion and Exclusion in a Contested Continent”. For this she chose the artists Chagall and Pascin, then Chagall and MirĂ³.
The results are through, and she has gained the Degree that she should have acquired in her youth, and with flying colours.
As close witness to her application and perseverance, I am lost in admiration for her – and immensely proud.