Rockin Rooster Sandwich by Tyler Viars
CHEF TYLER VIARS_Cookin’ In Camo
If I had a “claim to fame” among my friends, this would dish would be it. While in college, I created a play on the standard buffalo chicken sandwich. The secrets of the recipe include homemade buffalo and ranch with the bread being Texas Toast. With chicken as the staple back then, why not give pheasant a try today? So I did and low and behold it turned out flappin’ fantastic! The heat from the buffalo counterbalances perfectly with the cool, refreshing ranch. Did I mention they are fried in lard? Pour a drink and put on the playlist; we are about to bring these roosters from the forest to fork.
6-8 de-boned pheasant breasts pounded until even
4 cups cultured buttermilk (enough to cover the pheasants)
1-12oz bottle of favorite hot sauce (Louisiana is my preference)
2 cups lard or enough to fill a 12” cast iron by ½ an inch.
4 cups whole milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning to finish
2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
3 eggs, whisked to combine the white and yolk
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering bread
12-16 slices Texas Toast (NO EXCEPTIONS)
12-16 slices quality provolone cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
Place the pheasant breasts in a large, non-reactive container. Whisk a few dashes of hot sauce and fresh-cracked pepper with the buttermilk and add to the container with pheasant. Refrigerate for about 4 hours and no longer than 12 hours, as the texture of the meat will become unpleasantly grainy.
Remove the birds from the marinade, and place on paper towels to dry. Discard the buttermilk. Next fill a 4-quart sauce pan with the whole milk, add the pheasants, and turn the heat to high. Leave the pan uncovered and allow the milk to come to a near boil. IMPORTANT, unless you want to re-decorate, do NOT fill the sauce pan more than two-thirds full. Once the milk has reached a near boiling point, reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Place the birds on a wire rack to dry and toss the milk. To make the buffalo sauce, place a medium sauce pan of medium heat and add a stick of butter. As it melts, add the remainder of the hot sauce plus 1 teaspoon of the garlic powder. Allow it the liquid to come to a simmer. If it is too much heat for your preferred taste, add another half stick of butter. While the sauce is simmering, in a small bowl thoroughly combine the cornstarch and the tablespoon of cold water. Add it to the simmering buffalo sauce and constantly whisk. The sauce should become thick and glossy. Reduce heat to keep warm.
Meanwhile heat a 12” cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high and add the lard. It should be roughly ½ inch deep. Meanwhile, set up the batter station but cracking three eggs in a bowl and whisk to combine. Next in a shallow pan, add the 2 cups flour and season with the remaining garlic powder, onion powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the black pepper.
Heat a large skillet or flat top over medium heat and butter both sides of the Texas Toast. Once heated, place the bread in the skillet and allow to toast until golden brown or approximately 2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and wrap in foil to keep warm.
Preheat the oven broiler.
Once the lard reaches 375 degrees (get a thermometer), dredge the pheasant pieces in the flour, followed by the egg wash, and back in the flour. Shake off the excess and add the breasts two to three at a time to prevent the temperature from dropping too low. They should be a deep golden brown after 60-90 seconds. Flip and finish the other side. Remove the roosters from oil and allow to rest on a paper towel. Hit them with the remaining salt.
Slather a spoonful of the buffalo sauce on the bottom of half the toast slices, followed by a piece of breast. Place them on a sheet pan and stick under the broiler until the cheese is fully melted. I would guess 30 seconds. To plate, top the cheesy birds with a dollop of ranch, perhaps more buffalo, and the other slice of bread. Have a pressure washer ready; it’s about to get messy!! Dig in and remember to hunt, cook, share, enjoy!
Find out more about Chef Tyler HERE
Here’s another recipe you may enjoy, Spicy Grilled Hungarian Partridge by Chef Sarah Davies Tilt