A little forewarning before you make this recipe. The aroma of this simmering on your stove on a snowy Sunday afternoon can cause abnormal behavior in household members. Your husband may actually awaken from his nap, get up off the couch, and meander into the kitchen to investigate. "Hey, whatcha makin'?" Your brother, who hasn't stopped by in ages, will magically appear at your door. "Hey, what's cookin'?" Even your toddler, who is usually prefers Bob the Builder videos to any happenings in the kitchen, will sense something going on and forgo Bob to instead divebomb tiny Army soldiers into cups of water at the kitchen table. "Mom mom mom mom mom." (That's the toddler talking, his favorite phrase.)
We have plenty of pheasant in the freezer, and to make room for all that deer sausage coming up, I thawed a big bag of bird with pheasant and dumplings on the brain. I looked up a chicken and dumplings recipe in the classic red-and-white-plaid Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but it sounded bland. Instead, a quick Google search brought me to The Pioneer Woman's recipe. Thanks to her insistence on taking photos AT EVERY STEP OF THE COOKING PROCESS (exhausting), I had a good idea of what I was getting into. PW browns the meat first for extra flavor, instead of simmering it straight away like the BHG cookbook recommended. Smart. There's also the classic saute of carrot, celery and onion as a flavor base, all of which I had on hand. And the shot of cream she adds to it can't hurt a bit. But what sealed the deal were the dumplings: instead of just flour, she mixes in some cornmeal, and you gotta know that I love me cornmeal anything. Cornbread, cornmeal-crusted fried fish, corn spoon bread, polenta, I eat it all up.
I basically followed the recipe, besides my obvious sub of pheasant for chicken, but I did cheat and use less stock than the recipe listed. That was a mistake, as I lost some extra sauciness in my dish. So don't miss the gravy train: include all six cups of stock. The dumplings are going to thicken it up.
But one more forewarning. Once your pheasant and dumplings are ready to serve, you may try to take some photos of the food for your blog. I suggest you let family members dish up BEFORE taking the photos. You never know when your formerly napping spouse is going to sneak a bite (pardon the spit close-up - just keeping it real, folks).
Pheasant and Dumplings
Feel free to check out the original recipe here on PW's site. And I definitely recommend taking the time to shred the meat. It makes a world of difference, so many more little meaty crevices for the sauce to sneak into.
2-3 lbs. of Pheasant Pieces
Salt And Pepper
Salt As Needed