Pheasant

 To Truss and Roast a Pheasant

The following method of trussing a pheasant—which applies equally to partridges, grouse, &c., and to fowls, guineafowls, &c.—is prescribed by Francatelli in his "Cook's Guide":
"Rub the scaly cuticle off the legs with a cloth; trim away the claws and spurs; cut off the neck close up to the back, leaving the skin of the breast entire; wipe the pheasant clean and truss it in the following manner, viz.:—Place the pheasant upon its breast, run a trussing needle and string through the left pinion (the wings being removed); then turn the bird over on its back, and place the thumb and forefinger of the left hand across the breast, holding the legs erect; thrust the needle through the middle joint of both thighs, draw it out and then pass it through the other pinion, and fasten the strings at the back; next pass the needle through the hollow of the back, just below the thighs, thrust it again through the legs and body and tie the strings tightly; this will give it an appearance of plumpness."
Roast and send to table in the same manner, and with the same accompaniments as directed for Roast Partridge (par 1237 .) 


Pheasant. Common Or Ring-Necked Pheasant. Figure 24. [bottom]

Varioud bird eggs

This glorious bird is the Phasianus Colchicus  of naturalists, the first term meaning a Pheasant, and the second of Colchis, the ancient name of a country of Asia Minor, from whence it is said the bird was originally brought into Europe, by the old Greek navigators, called the argonauts, say some—those who in the ship Argo, sailed the seas under the command of Jason, and went through a series of surprising adventures connected with the bearing away of a certain golden fleece  from the King of Colchis, all of which are faithfully reported in the mythology, for the admiration and belief of the credulous. Certain it is that if Jason had not with him such a treasure as a golden fleece, he had in the Pheasant a golden bird, if there really ever was such a person, and he did in reality bring the splendid king of the English preserves into Europe.

A description of the bird's gorgeous plumage we need not attempt, as all of our readers must have seen it hanging up in the poulterer's shops, if they have not been startled by the sudden whirr  of its wings as it rose from the fern-brake or thicket at their approach, as they wandered amid the green woods where it delights to dwell.

The nest of this bird consists of merely a few leaves placed in a slight depression on the ground, sometimes in the open field near to a preserve or plantation, but more frequently among the underwood, in long grass and in hedge-rows; frequently the situation chosen is beneath boughs that have been felled, or have fallen from the tree. The laying of the eggs commences in April or May; incubation lasts from twenty-four to twenty-six days; the number sat upon varies from six up to as many as fourteen; more than this have been found in one nest, but it was not likely to have been the produce of a single hen; the colour of the eggs is pale olive brown, covered all over with very small dots of a deeper tint. Poachers are ever on the look-out for these eggs, as a sitting of them fetches a high price; they are generally, when taken from the nest, placed under a common hen to be hatched. Some have been found of a greyish white tinged with green. It is said that Partridges are sometimes expelled from their nests by these birds, which will sit upon their own eggs, and those of the rightful owner of the nest, and hatch them all.

Generally speaking, the Pheasant is a shy wary bird, and with good reason, being such an object of pursuit with sportsmen, as well as unlicensed depredators; but where secured from molestation and well fed, it becomes bold and familiar. Its general food is grain of various kinds, peas, beans, nuts, and berries, shoots and leaves of several plants, roots, and insects: it is particularly partial to sunflower seeds and buckwheat.

The variety called the Ring-necked Pheasant is distinguished by a clear ring of white round the neck; there is also a variety known as the Bohemian Pheasant, which is of a stone-colour prettily marked and mottled with black and brown. White and cream-coloured ones occasionally occur.