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Pheasant with Chorizo and Corn Bread Stuffing

  • SERVINGS: 4-6

Mark Miller, chef-owner of the original Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, two others in Las Vegas and Austin, and Red Sage in Washington, D.C., remembers his first encounter with chorizo: "In the kitchen I found my mother cooking juicy red sausage. Impulsively, I took a piece. When I put it in my mouth, there was an explosion of flavors, then a blast of heat. I was hooked."

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  1. 3/4 pound chorizo sausage,crumbled
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  4. 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
  5. 5 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  6. 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  7. 3 cups crumbled Blue Corn Bread
  8. 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  9. 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
  10. 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  11. 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  12. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  13. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  14. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  15. Two 2 1/2 -pound pheasants
  16. 4 slices of bacon
  1. In a heavy medium skillet, cook the chorizo over moderately high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Discard the fat.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet. Add the onion, celery, serranos and garlic and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Toss the vegetables with the chorizo. Mix in the Blue Corn Bread, thyme, sage and cilantro. Stir in the half-and-half and egg. Season with the pepper and mix thoroughly.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large heavy skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the oil. Add the pheasants and sear over moderately high heat, turning with tongs, until golden all over, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  4. Stuff the birds with about half of the stuffing and reserve the rest. Place the pheasants, breast side up, without touching, in a roasting pan and crisscross 2 bacon strips over each bird. Roast until the juices run clear when the thighs are pierced with a small knife, about 45 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  5. Meanwhile, shape the remaining stuffing into twelve 2-inch round patties. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over moderate heat, add the patties and cook, turning, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  6. Carve the pheasants and serve with the patties and cavity stuffing.