Roasted Pheasant Irish Mac-N-Cheese

14c56e8d-434d-4447-b868-d652d58a62c3 With Saint Patrick’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to indulge in all the rich aspects Irish culture has to offer. Few things are richer than a plate of thick and creamy mac-n-cheese, especially one that includes healthy, delicious pheasant. Add some Irish porter to the mix and cheddar made from the milk of Ireland’s grass-fed cows, and you have a dish worthy of a holiday celebration.     
 
Makes four servings.
   

Ingredients 

  • 12-16 ounces roasted pheasant, diced or shredded
  • 20 ounces chicken stock 
  • 10 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 10 ounces Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup shallots, thinly cut julienne style
  • 4 ounces thawed cut spinach
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Irish porter
  • 1/4 cup bacon fat/grease
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and white pepper (can substitute black pepper if needed)
  • 16-ounce box large macaroni noodles
 

Method 

Heat a large skillet on medium. Dice bacon and add to pan, cook until brown but not overly crisp, approximately 15 to 25 minutes. Place a sieve over a mixing bowl and dump cooked bacon bits into sieve, draining grease. Set aside.
 
In a medium pot, start simmering chicken stock and cream. In same large skillet used for bacon, add shallots, mushrooms, garlic and butter. Lightly salt and pepper. Cook on medium until shallots and mushrooms are soft. Deglaze with Irish porter. Keep on very low until ready to add to rest of mix.  
 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Start boiling a large pot of water for noodles.
 
Simultaneously, add flour and canola oil to another large pot and heat on low, stirring often to create a roux. Do not brown or burn. Once roux starts to bubble (after approximately 15 minutes), add steaming chicken stock and cream. BE CAREFUL since hot liquids will create an immense amount of steam. Stand back when pouring. Only combine liquids with roux if both are very hot; otherwise, the roux will not activate and create a dense mixture.
 
Place pheasant breasts or (thighs) in oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until internal temperatures reach 165 degrees. Remove, let cool and dice or hand shred.
 
After combining liquids with roux, add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Once water is boiling in other large pot, empty 16-ounce box of large macaroni noodles into water and stir often for 8 to 9 minutes. Drain water and let noodles cool.
 
To serve, either mix 2 cups of noodles with 2 cups of cheese slop or place noodles on a plate and ladle over desired amount of cheese slop. Garnish paprika and enjoy!
 
 
Former line cook and passionate denizen of the outdoors, Jack Hennessy is the author of the blog “Braising the Wild.” He lives with his wife in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @WildGameJack or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BraisingtheWild.