I generally don’t have favorites. It all depends on the day, my mood, simply the context. I’m going to make a bold statement though when I say this is my favorite recipe on the blog so far…maybe favorite dish we’ve ever cooked. Bold, I know, but each bite was full of so much flavor with the slight bite from the gorgonzola cheese, the sweetness from the dates, and the bacon’s saltiness.
Awhile back, as Roy and I were walking Jethro, we started brainstorming different ways to make the pheasant we had planned for the next day. This is the result, so it is definitely a joint-venture recipe, with Roy taking the lead!
All day our mouths were watering as we thought about this recipe. Setting such high expectations can be dangerous on a new recipe, but this did not disappoint. There was the layering of flavors in addition to a variety of textures with the succulent meat, buttery cheese, and crispy bacon. Mmmm, exquisite!
It’s a pretty easy recipe. Thaw out the meat (or eat fresh, depending on the season). Cut one continuous slit in the breast meat and stuff with cheese, dates, and tarragon. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper. Wrap with bacon. Place in an oven-proof baking dish that has a thin layer of apple juice. Bake for 30-40 minutes. This recipe calls for 9 total pieces of meat, so adjust cooking time according to how much meat you are cooking and how thick the pieces are.
The first time we cooked it, it turned out perfectly! The second time, I overcooked it a bit and it was too dry and tough. So make sure to not overcook them, unless you like dry and tough meat..?
A couple other tips we’ve learned along the way with this recipe:
1. Make sure the cuts in each piece of meat cover a wide surface. This allows for every bite to have plenty of cheese, dates, and tarragon.
2. Stuff them full! And especially don’t skimp on the cheese.
3. No need to let the pheasants sit in salt water (we used to do that in South Dakota, but we haven’t here and they seem to turn out better).
4. I think it deserves repeating – do not overcook.
- 6 pheasant breasts
- 3 pheasant thighs
- 15 fresh, pitted dates, chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
- ¾ cup gorgonzola cheese
- black pepper
- 9 slices of bacon
- ½ cup honey
- ⅛ cup apple juice
- Pour apple juice in an oven-proof baking dish.
- Make a slit in the breast and stuff with dates, cheese, and tarragon.
- Lightly grind black pepper over the meat.
- Wrap each piece with bacon, securing with toothpicks.
- Place in dish.
- Once all meat is arranged in dish, drizzle honey over contents and sprinkle any remaining tarragon, cheese, and dates.
- Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on how much meat you are cooking and the size of it) at 350 degrees.
- Twice during the baking, drain most of the bacon fat from the dish.
- After 30-40 minutes, when the pheasant looks about done and the bacon is cooked, but not completely crispy, turn the oven up to 450 degrees for 5 minutes.