Wild Pheasant with Immature Juniper, White Asparagus, Morels & Ramps on Beluga Lentils with Pancetta in Red Wine
DNA specializes in true Boreal cuisine and the wild flavours of Quebec. Because foraged ingredients are so difficult to find, Chef Derek Dammann and his former partner, Alex Cruz, set up Societe-Orignal. While many of these ingredients are not available commercially, these recipes are tremendous examples of the largely unexplored possibilities for Canadian cuisine.
- 1 whole wild hen pheasant, cleaned
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 30 grams good butter
- Sea salt and ground Societe-Orignal myrica gale
- 5 thin slices DNA speck or any other artisanal smoked fatty ham will do
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 tbsp Societe-Orignal immature juniper capers (black ones)
- 50 mL apple brandy like that produced by Michele Jodoin
- 4 tbsp heavy cream (35%)
- 2 tbsp Societe-Orignal immature juniper capers (green ones)
- 1 tsp Societe-Orignal immature juniper berry pickling liquid
Preheat the oven to 420F. Wipe the cavity of the pheasant and remove any excess fat. Put the thyme, crushed garlic and butter in the cavity and season generously. Lay the speck over the breast, overlapping slightly to make a nice “blanket.” Truss the bird with butchers twine making sure to go over the speck to keep it in place.
Choose a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, that will just hold the bird. Put in the pheasant, breast side up, the black juniper berries and the white wine. Three-quarter cover the pot with the lid and place in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the bird onto its breast. Cover again three-quarters and return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven again, turn the bird breast up, remove the lid and roast for 10 minutes. By this time the legs should just pull away from the body and the juices run clear.
Remove the pot from the oven, add the apple brandy and allow the bird to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the bird from the pot and add the juices from inside the cavity into the sauce. Pick out as many of the black junipers as you can and put the pot on the stove to reduce slightly. Split the sauce with the cream and season with the green juniper berries and their liquid. Season with sea salt and myrica gale to taste.
To serve, cut the string off the pheasant and place onto a warmed serving platter, remove the speck and chop roughly, pour over the sauce over the bird.
Herbed Beluga Lentils with Pancetta and Red Wine
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 small carrots finely chopped
- ½ head celery, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Societe-Orignal sunflower oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
- 100 grams DNA pancetta or other artisanal fatty ham, finely chopped
- 2 ½ cups beluga lentils
- 1 ½ cups red wine
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- Sea salt and Societe-Orignal myrica gale to taste
- 2 tbsp wild Boreale arugula, roughly chopped
Fry the onion, carrots and celery in the sunflower oil until soft. Add the garlic, herbs and pancetta for about 10 minutes, over low heat so the pancetta does not crisp. Add the lentils and stir to coat.
Add the wine ladle by ladle so the lentils absorb the wine before you add any more.
Heat the stock and check for seasoning. Add one third of the stock and cook until the lentils are done, adding more stock if necessary.
Season with salt, myrica gale and more sunflower oil. Finish with the chopped arugula.
Sauté of White Asparagus, Morels and Ramps
Ramps, or wild leeks, are very precious so that it is important to never over harvest them.
- 30 stalks white asparagus, double pencil sized
- 12 ramps, leaves attached
- 6 oz morels, trimmed and cleaned
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp sliced Italian parsley
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Societe-Orignal apple vinegar or other high quality apple cider vinegar (optional)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Snap the ends off of the asparagus and peel the stalks.
Clean the ramps and prepare in the following method: Wrap the green tops together loosely in foil and carefully lower the bulb ends into the boiling water, leaning them against the side of the pot and keeping the foil wrapped leaves protected from the water. Cook for a few minutes until the bulbs are tender. Remove the ramps from the water, unwrap the foil and dip the leaves into the boiling water for a few seconds. Gives you tender bulbs and bright green leaves.
Blanch the asparagus for 5 minutes and transfer to a sheet to cool.
Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, add 4 tbsp of the butter. When it foams add the morels 3-4 minutes stirring often. Turn the heat down to medium, add the thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and a few grindings of pepper. Let the mushrooms cook another 5-6 minutes, they should be a little crispy on the outside, yet tender inside.
Add the remaining butter to the pan. Add the asparagus and cook for two minutes. Add the ramps and season, stirring to make sure everything is coated in mushroomy brown butter.
Stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning, “a little splash of Societe-Orignal apple vinegar wouldn’t be offensive at all”.
Chef Derek Dammann
DNA, Montreal, QC
Chef Derek Dammann grew up on Vancouver Island, and after training at Nanaimo’s Malaspina College, his career path took him to London, England where he spent several years as Chef de Cuisine at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. He founded DNA with Alex Cruz. Together they changed the way Montreal dines, and this extraordinary journey will continue.