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31 responses to “Pheasant and Dumplings”

  1. Joshua

    Even the Better Homes and Gardens chicken and dumplings (my go-to) is awesome! I really didn’t think you’d be so dismissive of a food without first trying it… you know, since you occasionally throw wild duck feet into boiling water.

  2. Janie

    I have SO been put off pheasant since cooking/eating one that had been hung for what tasted like 6 years. Eurgh. It took days for the smell of it to leave my house and I still get the shivers when I think about eating it. Next time I get a brace, I’m going to try them fresh, no hanging at all.
    That said, this dish looks scrummy and may just copy the chicken version!

  3. Kevin

    Never thought of using cake flour, since it’s…not cake and all. The last time I made a non-cake item with cake flour the texture was not good, but this sounds like a great idea.
    My mother-in-law makes the best dumplings but her’s are rolled out slightly so that you don’t end up with a ‘raw dough’ center.

    Hatin’ on chicken fried steak and white gravy(sawmill, sausage, etc)! And all of this time I thought you were okay!

  4. Julia

    I have a bunch of skinned pheasant breasts, some with a little bone. Would this recipe work with them?

    Also, have you tried the jam/liqueur that I made and did you like them? I believe that the jam was Italian prune plum elderberry with honey although there very likely were more. The liqueur that I remember is green walnut Vin de Noix.



  5. 30A EATS

    Aw, Hank! You haven’t had my sawmill gravy cooked with sausage in the pan drippings of a cast iron skillet! It is deliciously wonderful and belongs on chicken-fried and country-fried steak, especially if you are having mashed potatoes! In the morning is when we typically have the red eye gravy with biscuits and country ham. Your dumplings are much different then the ones I’m used to, but drew me in as the dish looks warm and comforting!

  6. Julia

    A friend has many frozen skinless pheasant breasts. Would it be possible to make your recipe with them? Also, did you like the jam/liqueur that I gave you in Boulder? I think the jam was Italian prune plum elderberry honey and the liqueur was English green walnut Vin de Noix.

    Thank you.

  7. Clint Baker

    That looks really good. I believe I will have to try it!

  8. Bobby Nations


    In my family, sawmill gravy is not the same as milk gravy.

    The sawmill gravy dishes that I have eaten in various restaurants all came out very thick with lots of sausage patty bits floating around in them. The taste was okay but the texture was weird to me as the gravy would visibly congeal on the biscuit during the meal. By the end of breakfast, sawmill gravy usually has turned to glue.

    Now, my Grandmother’s (and to a lesser extent, my Mom’s) milk gravy was a whole other dish entirely.

    I’m working from memory here, plus I’m not really a good cook, so apologies in advance. She would start with a light brown roux made from whatever drippings were left from the morning’s meat portion. But not all of the drippings — only maybe 3 tablespoons or so — otherwise the meat would overpower everything. She also didn’t use much flour and didn’t brown it for long, so the gravy stayed white with mocha swirls. The light-colore roux might also explain why it never turned into glue on the plate. And here’s the main difference between her milk gravy and sawmill gravy, she used a *lot* of milk. The final texture was very thin and soupy and would actually soak into the biscuit (this was important because she always made pretty crusty biscuits and they needed some tenderizing). Oh, and she added lots of black pepper to finish the dish.

    The final product had a very mild taste, sort of silky and buttery with some meat flavors hiding in the background. Oddly enough, it didn’t really taste like milk, per se, possibly because the pepper finish and the meat undertones. It was wonderful stuff. I’ve never had it anywhere else, and to date haven’t been able to replicate it myself.

    P.S. I’m from the South.

  9. Robert Smith

    Hank, thanks for this.

    When I was a kid, I’d hunt squirrel and partridge all through the fall, and we’d keep them in the freezer. My step-father would make what we called a squirrel or partridge pie – which sounds really similar to this. We’re not Southern – a several generation Vermont and Northern New England family.

    As I remember it, it was dumplings on the bottom and top, with meat and sauce in between. I was with my siblings over the weekend, and we all commented on how delicious it had been. Think I’ll try this one!


  10. marshall

    Let’s be rational here. Where I come from, the words “lothe” and “Chicken Fried Steak” in the same vicinity are fighting words. 🙂

  11. Steve

    That looks so good. Thank you for sharing this.

  12. Joshua

    Julia, we should exchange notes on green walnut stuff; I’ve got a whole page and have been working with them for three years now. How long did you age your vin de noix? I gave Hank a bottle of nocino a couple years back, and it was okay, but when I gave the same vintage this year to a friend back East, she fell in love with it – so, aging obviously helps…

    Bobby Nations, that’s exactly the same gravy I grew up with! Great stuff!

  13. Julia


    I made the vin de noix that I gave Hank this year. I macerated the green walnuts for three months before straining. I used English green walnuts. I made my first batch of nocino in 2006 with English green walnuts. I made my next batch of nocino last year with black walnuts. This year, I made separate batches of nocino with English and black walnuts.

    Since English walnuts do not grow here, I have to mail order English green walnuts (highway robbery). I have started to find places here for black walnuts. Trying to harvest green walnuts with an apple picker is kind of comical.

    I did a tasting of all the nocino that I have made for a chef friend and his bar staff. They liked the 2006 nocino the best but thought that the expense incurred for acquiring English walnuts is not worth it since it is possible to pick local black walnuts.

  14. Tom Gowans

    Mouth watering and so adaptable to any kind of game.

    Interesting that you talk about cake flour. This is the ONLY type of flour we can get here.

  15. Phillip

    Good stuff. One of the treats of my childhood, and probably the impetus to keep me hunting, was my grandmother’s squirrel and dumplings. My dad and I would go out in the morning to shoot a mess of squirrels on Saturday, and we’d be eating them for Sunday dinner. Poor people food? Maybe. But damned good stuff.

    As far as gravy, I’d always seen “milk gravy” as yankee food… not southern. But that could just be the household where I was raised. I expect, like most of these comfort food recipes, that one traverses the Mason-Dixon line with aplomb.

  16. Trent

    Milk gravy, or white gravy as we called it, is common in the areas of KY & TN where my parents are from. It was mostly a mid-day gravy.

    Mornings meant red-eye gravy. Red-eye gravy over my mama’s lard biscuits with home-cured country ham is ambrosia.

    I grew up eating chicken & dumplings and never thought to use upland game. Looks like I will be doing so next fall.

  17. Matthew

    I’m a little confused by your claim that milk gravy is disgusting. What about it turns you off? Have you had proper sawmill gravy made with a roux? I assume you’ve tried it enough that you know what you’re talking about, but I really don’t see how someone could not like good biscuits and gravy, with its assertive earthiness.

  18. Joe Keough

    Never was a dumpling fan. I am now; wish that I had doubled the recipe!

  19. Virg

    My grandma would have thumped you on the head with her rolling pin for talking about biscuits and gravy that way. Livin’ out on that left coast makes folks weird, I suppose.

  20. Chicken and Dumplings | The Things That I Eat

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  21. Lisa Williams

    Made this today as Hurricane Sandy’s gloom rolled toward PA. Fantastic dish! Thanks!

    p.s. Milk gravy in WVa was called ‘white sauce’ and it was definitely poor family’s food. We ate plenty of it – sometimes on meat but usually on white bread toast when there was no meat. Often for breakfast or lunch – and sometimes both in the same day. We’re grown now, but one of my sisters still visibly shudders everytime the words ‘white sauce’ are spoken.

  22. Jill

    Made this yesterday was fantastic. The pheasant had been frozen for a year, yikes! It took hours to make, but it was worth it. Delicious, and the only recipe I was able to find for pheasant and dumplings.

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  24. Christian

    Very good, thanks Hank. Silky is a good word here. I had some difficulty getting the flour to brown as I was afraid of scorching my enameled dutch oven. Next time I’m probably going to try making a roux separately in an iron skillet.

  25. Stan Headley

    What is cake flour? In the UK we have plain or self-raising.

  26. lana long

    What about a flour called “Wondra”?. I use a lot esp for pan frying.
    Love everthing you do and read everything I can thst you print.
    A huge fan in Paduca, Ky.

  27. Dotsy Arquilla

    Can I use pheasant that has been skinned?

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