Bream—a catch-all word for bluegills, shellcrackers, and other panfish—could well be described as the everyman’s fish. Widely distributed in streams, ponds, and lakes across the country, they are prolific breeders, cooperative when it comes to catching them, and make first-rate eating.
Here’s a healthy dish that’s as easy to prepare as it is tasty.
• Bream fillets (three or four per person)
• Shredded Parmesan cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and arrange fillets in a layer. Sprinkle generously with cheese.
Place another layer of fish atop the cheese and top with more cheese. Continue layering until there are three or four layers of fish.
Bake for about 40 minutes, watching closely in the final 10 minutes so the bream isn’t overcooked.
Robert Ruark, who wrote so expressively about food that he puts his readers’ salivary glands into involuntary overdrive, had this to say about pheasant: “You take a big cock pheasant . . . He is not so much dinner as trophy, but when he is cooked correctly, he is not so much trophy as dinner.” This dish will reveal the accuracy of Ruark’s thinking.
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 large green bell pepper, sliced (optional)
• 1 teaspoon paprika or to taste
• 1 large fresh tomato or 1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes
• A few dashes of red pepper
• A few dashes of black pepper
• 2 pheasants , cut into quarters (legs, thighs, and halved breast)
• Salt to taste
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 1 cup milk
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onion in it until tender. Add the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes. Add enough paprika to give the onion a deep red color and cook, stirring, for one minute.
Add the tomato, red pepper and black pepper. Add the pheasant pieces with enough water to barely cover them and sprinkle in salt. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cover and continue simmering until the pheasant is tender (about two hours).
Combine the flour with the milk and add to the pan, along with seasonings to taste. Cook until thickened but do not boil. Serve over noodles or orzo.
This dish partners well with homemade bread and a green salad.
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