City Girl, Country Cooking: Serbian Pheasant Soup
I may be a city girl, but Muz is a country boy at heart. So when he was invited to go pheasant hunting outside of Belgrade, he jumped at the chance. And me? I didn’t even know what a pheasant looked like. I stayed in the city that day and hoped he wouldn’t bring home any dead animals.
That didn’t happen.
He brought home some pheasant that evening. Fortunately they were plucked and relatively blood-free, but I didn’t know what to do with them. The other hunters recommended pheasant soup. Of course, none of them had actually made the soup themselves; Serbia is quite traditional when it comes to domestic duties. I improvised a recipe based on chicken soup.
First, I trimmed the fat off the bird, cut it into halves, and removed the legs and wings at the joint. Remember, I said the bird was relatively blood-free. When I was finished, I felt like a serial killer.
It was disgusting. I spared you photos. You’re welcome.
I washed off the parts and put them into a stock pot with about 3 quarts of water covering the parts. I boiled them for about 2 hours. I had to skim the water. I’m not sure what I was skimming, but I knew I didn’t want to eat it. As the bird boiled, I cut up vegetables and lightly sautéed them. Soup is a popular dish in Belgrade, and markets carry a “soup veggie” package that contains parsnip, carrot, and parsley. I decided to do as the Beogradjani do and use that.
I would’ve added celery, but I haven’t seen any since I arrived here. Celery root is everywhere, but no celery. Can someone explain that? Anyway, after two hours, I took the parts out and stripped the meat. I poured the broth into a new pot, straining it through a colander with cheesecloth.
Some people like the broth by itself, but I beefed it up with the meat, veggies, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves and a small amount of nutmeg. After it simmered for about 45 minutes, I added some diced cabbage for a celery-like crunch to the soup for 10 minutes. Next time, I’d add some white beans.
It took longer than I anticipated, but it was delicious. I’m still a city girl, and I still prefer to see my poultry wrapped in plastic. But if you have to do something with a bird corpse pheasant, I’d recommend this. Muz was pretty impressed, too. But now he’s talking about going boar hunting in the spring. Any suggestions?