A Brace of American Birds (Pheasant and Duck)

A Brace of American Birds (Pheasant and Duck) Recipe

This is meal fit for a President. Or two. A brace of pheasant and duck was the main course at Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Dinner and will again be featured at President-Elect Barack Obama's Inauguration. Pheasant is no longer commonly available but I finally was able to get some at Whole Foods.


Yields: 4

4 pheasant breasts
4 duck breasts
2 Tbs butter, soften at room temperature
1 Tbs mandarin zest
1 tsp mandarin extract
1 mandarin , juiced
1 Tbs papaya seeds, ground
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 Tbs coarse grain mustard
1 tsp fleur de sel
1 Tbs Herbes de Provence
1 drizzle olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to make the marinade, except the salt.

For the duck:

Make criss-cross cut on the duck fat without touching the flesh. Marinate the duck with half of the seasoning mixture for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Heat a skillet until it's really hot on the highest setting. Place the duck skin down. Grill for 4 minutes. Lift the meat with tongs and rotate the meat 45° to get a nice criss-cross charred marks.  Cook for another 4 minutes.

Transfer to the hot oven for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Transfer the duck to a plate and flip the meat skin side up. Let the meat sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing. 

Preheat second oven to 400°F.

For the pheasant breast:

Place the same marinate but add salt to it. Be very careful, don't tear the skin. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

In another skillet that can go in the oven. Drizzle some olive oil, wait until the oil is really hot. Place the pheasant breast, skin down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the skin is nice and golden.

Transfer to the hot oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with an aluminum sheet. Let the meat sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

 Slice the meat. Serve it with the cherry tomato and sour cherry chutney and the green peppercorn truffle sauce.

Bon appétit!


You can use any kind of poultry for this recipe.

Herbes de Provences is very easy to make. It's a blend of several types of herbs like lavender. I'll post the recipe later.

I usually extract seeds from a papaya, grind them in a mini food processor then place them in an ice-cube tray then freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I keep them exactly the same way I would do with my extra pesto.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes prior cooking so they're at room temperature.

I use a cast iron griddle skillet for grilling meats. It gives nice grill marks and the heavy weight distributes heat evenly.

If the duck is cold you can reheat it in the oven at 250°F for 3 minutes. Don't overcook the meat, it still needs a nice pink color in the middle. 

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 19, 2009.


[-] My inlaws give me a - Guest-Vita Brevis
Presidential cookbook that I think includes the Lincoln era. I'll have to double check. Glancing at the recipes, many contain ingredients we'd consider outdated or unhealthy (ie lard ) but I think I'll see which Lincoln recipes I can adapt to my family's palate and include in our special occasion meals this year.
[ Posted at 3:12 PM on 1/20/09 | Reply ]

Order my latest book:
Banh Mi

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