Sauteed Pheasant with Cranberry-Apple Compote

A compote rich with fall ingredients pairs perfectly with sautéed pheasant breasts. Letting the meat soak in olive oil before cooking tenderizes it.


4 boneless skinless pheasant breasts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rendered pork or duck fat or additional extra-virgin olive oil*
1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
12 to 15 large fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper


1 cup chopped unpeeled apple
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place pheasant breasts in small glass or ceramic baking dish; coat with 1/4 cup oil. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

2. Combine all compote ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half and liquid is slightly thickened and syrupy, stirring frequently.

3. Melt pork fat and 1/4 cup of the butter in medium skillet over high heat until golden brown. Add pheasant breasts; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn pheasant; reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 4 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Remove; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

4. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter; cook over medium heat until butter is melted and light golden brown. Add sage; cook 15 to 30 seconds or until leaves turn dark green and begin to crisp, turning once and watching carefully. Place on paper towels. (Sage will continue to crisp as it cools.)

5. Slice pheasant breast and serve over compote; garnish with fried sage and drizzle with browned butter mixture.

2 servings

NOTE: *Only a small amount of the fat ends up in the cooked dish. This amount is needed for cooking the pheasant and frying the sage.


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