A cooperative Sabine supper

It gets dark and cold quickly in the evening here at the Sabine Farm.

And so when someone comes for supper, a fire is laid in the fireplace and the food is a bit more substantial.

The other night a friend came over and we had a cooperative meal: I made the first course and he made the second.

My contribution was cooperative in more than one way.   One of you wonderful readers helped me make it by having sent me a critical ingredient through my amazon wish list!

And so I made risotto with taleggio (cheese) and pears. This stuff is very yummy and can be habit forming, so proceed with caution.

Before you start, it is a good idea to warm the broth you will use in a pan.  For this recipe, you’ll want, say, 6 cups or so of vegetable or, if you want to go to the darker side of flavor, chicken broth.

I started with some butter in the pan with just a tiny bit of sesame oil just to give an addition layer to the background flavor.  This is not something I usually do when making risotto, but I decided to play around a bit.  Let’s call it a couple tablespoons of butter and half a tsp of sesame oil. 

I goes the finely chopped yellow onion.  I like vidalia.

Cook this on a low heat until it gets translucent.  Or at least that is what I should have done, but I started working on something else and I got a few little brownies in there.  No harm done.

In goes the rice.  You probably want to use arborio rice, which is high in starch.   Let’s say about a cup and a half.  Stir it around in the pan quickly to get all the grains coated and slightly cooked so that the kernels start releasing their starch in the broth as you add it.

At this point toss in a glass of dry white wine, which you have probably been sipping at while working.  Put it in and let it reduce will it is almost gone.  Then replenish the liquid with the warm broth, a ladle at a time, stirring it in.  

The key to making risotto is the patient adding of liquid and then letting it cook down.  Then adding more and letting it cook down.  The rice will begin to expand and release starches so that it starts getting creamy in texture.  Risotto is therefore fairly easy to make, especially if you are working on some other things.  Just turn around once in a while, add a little more broth, stir it, and do something else. 

For example, peel, core and chop up a couple pears.  I prefer those red pears.  I forget what they are called.  Anjou?   Alas, I didn’t have any.  But I did have a couple ripe green Bartlett pears.

I think the next time I make this, I will cut them into slightly larger chunks.

Back at the stove, the rice is expanding and the whole thing is getting thicker.

When the rice is just about al dente, you want to put in your pears.  If the pears are really firm, give them a bit longer to cook in the rice and broth, perhaps about 3 minutes.  At this point I also added about a 1/4 tsp of thyme fresh leaves I stripped off their little twigs.  Again, this was just playing around a little.  You have to be really careful with these savory herbs so that they don’t overwhelm your delicate flavors.

Then you can add your taleggio!  I am guessing about put in about 4 oz, about half of what I received from the kind WDTPRSer.   Because warm taleggio can get a little gooey, I kept it in the fridge until I needed it.  Put it in a little at a time, stirring it through.  It’ll blend in quickly.  You can always add a touch of broth, if you have any left to adjust the consistency. 

The final product is very smooth and creamy in texture.  It is pretty filling, too.  If you have additional courses, don’t plate up too much of the stuff, no matter how tempted.  My recipe here would serve about four people.

The second course was fresh wild pheasant cooked in cream with mushrooms, sherry and savory herbs, that is, rosemary, sage and thyme.  My guest had started this at home, boning and carefully checking for shot, and brought it over.  I steamed asparagus to go with it, obviously.  It is really cheap right now.

I don’t have shots of the prep for the pheasant. 

First, lightly kill the pheasant.  A shotgun helps, unless you are really fast.  Gut it, strip it down and bone it.  Check for shot.  Few things are as unpleasant and shot filled pheasant.  Your teeth will appreciate your diligence.

After that, you can start with some onion in a big frying pan, again with the butter.  Add the mushrooms.  Pinch of salt and pepper.  Wild mushrooms with a sturdy flavor are best for this.  Put in the cream and start to reduce it.  This time a tablespoon of tomate paste was added, for a little color and background flavor.  You can add your herbs at this point.  You might make a bouquet garni for this.  I used dental floss to tie these.  The point is that these savory herbs can really overwhelm your dish.  Check the flavor and then pull your bouquet garni when you think it is right.  Add your sherry to your taste.  Put the pheasant into your pan, into the reduced cream and sherry and cook until done.  Be careful.  This’ll take about 10 minutes.

A knife was present, but not really necessary in the end, it was so tender.   And the pheasant was fresh. It hadn’t ever been frozen.

So, that was a supper at the Sabine Farm.   

And for those of you who think that this is extravagant, stop to think about the ingredients.  A few tablespoons of butter, arborio rice maybe $2.50, a couple cans of broth purchased in bulk at Sam’s Club, say, $2.00, an onion – $1.25, some mushrooms which you can pick and dry or purchase for, say, $4.00, asparagus on sale for $2.50/lb, a couple shotgun shells for, say, $1.25 each, homegrown herbs, a bottle of wine, say, $15, cream about $3.50.  Pears: $2.00 on sale. The wine was a gift and a WDTPRSers sent the tallegio.  So let’s call it $15 for the meal for two with leftovers… except the wine.  That’s all gone.

Then you just need the time and the will and a friend to help with the eating.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geometricus says:

    Yum city. My seventh-grade daughter Grace really laughed at “lightly kill the pheasant.”

    I appreciated knowing the name of the “rice used in making risotto” which was a crossword puzzle clue I was working on. ARBORIO

  2. Jim says:

    The Nativity Fast (long abandoned by the West) begins today in most Byzantine Catholic churches. So I will just have to drool at your pictures.

  3. Andrew says:

    Yes, “lightly kill”…like “only slightly fatal” :)

  4. Geoffrey says:

    Great post! I’ll be printing this out to add to my recipes!

  5. [wipes drool from keyboard]

  6. Anthony says:

    Father, have you thought about opening a restaurant? Maybe turn the Sabine Farm into an agritourismo? “Say the black, eat the pasta”

  7. Wilf says:

    You should really start another blog…

    What Does the Recipe Really Say?

  8. Eat the rice. Drink the red.

  9. Jayna says:

    I think I may have to try making that risotto. I wonder if I can find taleggio at Harry’s, they’ve got just about everything under the sun. Never had pheasant before, but with that sauce I think I may need to expand my comestible horizons.

    You should write a cook book, Father. I am totally serious.

  10. derik says:

    WDTPRS is a pavlovian blog in more than one sense.

  11. Thomas says:

    Risotto! Yum. One of my favorites to make and eat! The last batch I made came on the heels of a batch of roasted root vegetables, so I had some beet tops lying around. I de-stemmed the tops chopped them and put them in the risotto. Really very nice, and they turned the rissotto an attractive shade of purple. Give it a whirl sometime.

    Never have had pheasant…

  12. John Enright says:

    Rachel Ray has competition! Looks really, really tasty.

  13. Vincenzo says:


    “You should really start another blog… What Does the Recipe Really Say?”


  14. Sara says:

    My dear friend and I also partake of the wild meats…. blue and ruffed grouse and chukkar especially are common in the fall here in Utah, although we did have a pheasant this past Tuesday. They are especially good fried a bit then simmered in fat-free cream of mushroom soup. It is indeed lots of fun to prepare a meal with a friend :)

    “Lightly Kill” is an appropriate term as I have had birds that were literally PULVERIZED by the shotgun..turns the meat to mush. Aim for the head.

    I will try making the risotto next time..we usually have a wild rice mix. Thanks also for the wine recommendations as we are newbies in proper wine selection….had a mild red table wine called Kid Red from Castle Creek winery, a southern Utah winery. we DO have to be careful with the reds as my friend will sometimes get headaches from the sulfites.. Neither one of use are a big fan of the whites although I like a nice Chardonney once in awhile. we include corn bread (marie calendar recipe copy–yummy with gravy from the bird) and lightly steamed veggie and red pepper mix.

    What was for dessert?? :) We had Dutch apple pie (warmed) with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. No wine leftover either :)

  15. Doug says:


    Everything looks wonderful! Where did you get Vidalias this time of year? I live in Georgia and even I can’t find them.


    Do you live in Atlanta? You mentioned Harry’s. I live a few miles from what I think is the last one left (Marietta) after Whole Foods bought the chain. Harry’s rocks! However, If you don’t find taleggio there, try Star Provisions on Howell Mill Rd. (http://www.starprovisions.com)

  16. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    Yummissimo, father! Thanks for sharing this delicious meal with your readers.

  17. momof8 says:

    SAdly, we went all bow season without ONE Deer.. my freezer is STILL empty… Maybe shotgun.. *sigh*

  18. Syriacus says:

    “Al contadino non far sapere quanto è buono il formaggio con le pere!”

    (Traditional Italian popular adage ;)

  19. R says:

    SAdly, we went all bow season without ONE Deer.. my freezer is STILL empty… Maybe shotgun..

    Well, why not arrange to buy some from other hunters in your area? Where I am, people bring venison stew to church potlucks.

  20. That’s it – I’m calling Bobby Flay and telling him to head to the Sabine Farm for a Risotto throwdown.

  21. Syriacus: And how true it is!

  22. Peg says:

    My sister-in-law hit a pheasant with her car one day on the way home from dropping her children off at school (the pheasants are in the roads when the hunters are in the fields).Not exactly “lightly killed” but no shot to worry about either. She gave it to her neighbors who loved it(fresh)except the part where the bumper hit.

  23. Jane says:

    Father Z. I am learning more about cooking because of your postings.

  24. Fr Z, you are a chef as well as theologian

    Tried your recipe today and only added a few drops of Black Truffle Oil for extra flavor


    ciao for now

    Padre Trigilio

  25. Fr. Trigilio: Good addition!

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