Pheasant Sandwich Redux
A modern take on an Aberdeen classic
Over the years many have asked for the recipe for this famous sandwich, and the volunteers of the WWII Pheasant Canteen Team have made the recipe readily available at their exhibit in the Milwaukee Depot (it’s included here too). To learn more about this increadible Aberdeen story, get a hold of the DVD they produced for the 70th anniversary of the start of the canteen. (Available at the Dacotah Prairie Museum or the Public Library.)
The canteen’s pheasant sandwich satisfied thousands of WWII service men and women traveling through Aberdeen to or from the war effort from 1943 to 1946. Here we offer a modern twist on the sandwich. Ours takes advantage of the gaminess of pheasants and incoporates a hearty, earthy bread. The goal is to taste pheasant. We brine it, then fry it quickly to prevent it from getting dry. Make both if you like and see which version your troops prefer. // by Troy McQuillen
For the brine
– 1/2 cup Kosher salt
– 3 cups water
For the pheasant salad
– 6 half breasts from 3 pheasants
– 2 tsp. vegetable oil
– 2 tbsp. red wine
– 1 tsp Dijon mustard
– 1/4 cup mayonnaise
– 1 rib of celery chopped very fine
– 1/2 small shallot chopped very fine
For the sandwiches
– Plum Jelly
– Romaine lettuce
– Multigrain or wheat bread
1. To brine the breasts, dissolve the kosher salt in the water. Add the breasts and soak for 20-30 minutes in the fridge. Any longer and you’ll have salt bombs. After desired time, dump the brine, rise the breasts, then pat completely dry.
2. Heat the oil in a stainless steel skillet on medium high heat until it just starts to smoke. Carefully arrange the breasts, set a timer and fry for three minutes. Flip and fry for two-three more minutes. I cooked them to 160°, removed from the pan and let them coast to 165°. If there’s any oil left in the pan, remove, then deglaze with the red wine, scraping up all the stuck-on bits. Reserve the resulting liquid. Let the breasts cool a bit.
3. Process the breasts in a food processor to the consistency you prefer. Just don’t turn it to paste. If you work in small batches, you can often hear and catch the bb’s in the food processor.
4. Transfer shredded meat to a large mixing bowl, add in the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, pepper, reserved glazing liquid, celery and shallot. Mix together and add more mayo if you prefer it a bit wetter.
5. On one piece of bread, cover with butter, on the other, cover with plum jelly. Pile on the pheasant salad, some lettuce, cut in half and serve. The brine should add enough salt. If not, just sprinkle more on.
THE OFFICIAL WWII PHEASANT CANTEEN SANDWICH RECIPE
– 3 cups cooked pheasant chopped fine
– 2 hard cooked eggs chopped fine
– 2 carrots grated
– 1/2 medium onion chopped fine
– 1/2 cup celery chopped fine
– 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
– Salt and pepper
– Mayonnaise or salad dressing to blend nicely
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Add mayo or salad dressing to taste, chill.
3. Spread on sandwich bread.