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This year I will be cooking up something very different for Valentine’s Day—pheasant. In fact, I will be cooking wild game all weekend. I was invited back to the Wild Game Cooking Stage at the National Pheasants Forever Pheasant Fest. I’m honored to be one of four chefs from across the U.S to demonstrate cooking wild game. This year, the event is in Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I have a new recipe line-up that’s “jazzy” but still super easy.

Cooking on stage is not easy. I’ve had my share of disasters. I’ve melted a pan on stage (literally had molten metal dripping down the front of the table onto the stage) and one time while cooking live on TV, my assistant spilled a half cup of melted butter, the main ingredient for a recipe. I can look back now and laugh, but at the time I was horrified. I try to keep my recipes easy to begin with, but even more so when I’m cooking on stage. 

I love this recipe, because it’s slightly unusual, but is still in the realm of comfort food. It’s perfect for a romantic evening for two or 30,000 (the number of people who usually attend Pheasant Fest). 

Treat someone you love to a fun filled weekend at Pheasant Fest or make this recipe at home and surprise them. If you don’t have pheasant, you can substitute chicken. Be sure and stop by and say hello—I’d love to meet you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Onion Rye Pheasant Crisps

Serves 4

Pheasant meatballs

1 whole pheasant, meat stripped from breasts and legs or 1/2 lb. ground chicken

3 slices light rye bread, torn into small pieces

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup half & half

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse pheasant until coarsely ground. Add rye bread and pulse until bread is incorporated. Add parmesan cheese, egg and half & half; mix until the mixture comes together. Add parsley and pulse 2-3 times. 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Bake meatballs for 15 minutes or until just done. Transfer to plate and set aside. When cool enough to handle, slice meatballs in half.

To make Pheasant Crisps:

2 cups Havarti cheese, grated

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup caramelized onions (directions below)

2 Tbsp. melted butter

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 large lavash crackers or prebaked pizza crust or flatbread

Place oven rack to the middle of oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Sprinkle the lavash crackers with the Havarti and cheddar cheese divided between both crackers. Top with caramelized onions and sliced meatballs. Using a pizza peel or a flat cookie sheet transfer pheasant crisp to oven rack. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and drizzle with the melted butter and parsley. 

To make Caramelized Onions:

2 large onions, sliced thin

1/4 cup butter

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large fry pan, over medium heat, add butter. Add onions to melted butter and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently until onions are a light golden color and very tender; about 25 minutes.

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at or email her at 


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