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Chef Alfonso Contrisciani and his Assistant Otto Borsich Prepared MacFarlane Pheasant at the 2023 NAGA convention



Would you like to learn MacFarlane pheasant recipes from a Master Chef? Bill MacFarlane, Sarah Pope, and Chris Theisen had the opportunity to enjoy watching Chef Alfonso Contrisciani and his assistant Chef Otto Borsich prepare pheasant at the NAGA Convention for the second year in a row. Chef Alfonso loves to work with quality pheasant. He made our day when he said, “Working with a premium product like MacFarlane Pheasant definitely made my job easy.  They are the finest pheasants I ever worked with.” Be prepared to learn more about these highly experienced chefs and to see some recipes that will astonish you!

Chef Alfonso graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence RI, in 1979, with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. He worked in 5-star hotels in his 20s and early 30s, and in 1996 Chef Alfonso studied for and passed the Certified Master Chef exam. Master Chef Alfonso opened his first restaurant in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. He called it OPUS 251, and the restaurant became the number one fine dining restaurant in the city to feature American Regional Cuisine. In 2002 he accepted a teaching job at Johnson and Wales and returned to school to get a bachelor’s degree. 

Chef Alfonso is a renowned educator, restaurateur, Executive Chef, and Pastry Chef. He has held VP and director positions in some of the country's leading hotels, restaurants, universities, and food service companies. Alfonso oversaw several of the largest convention centers in the country. He planned several presidential dinners in Washington DC, including President Obama’s Inaugural balls.

Chef Alfonso currently owns and operates farms in Thornville, Ohio. Oliver Farms, a conventional 300-acre grain farm where he raises cattle, is one of the farms. He also owns a 77- acre organic vegetable farm called A&J Organic Farms in Thornville. Lastly, Alfonso owns a bakery, Italian Deli, and a large catering business. He believes in sustainable, locally grown foods and applies his beliefs to all of his companies. After sharing his busy life, Chef Alfonso ended his description of his accomplishments by saying, “We take great pride in offering the finest products in the area.” If you want to watch the Chef preparing pheasant at the NAGA convention, please follow this link. He is a delightful speaker and brings the preparation of his dishes alive for the audience.

Assistant Chef Otto Borsich, who worked with Chef Alfonso at the NAGA convention, also has an exciting background. He is originally from Ohio but left for the Navy as a young man. He learned to cook aboard the USS Patrick Henry SSBN 599, a submarine based in Pearl Harbor. Chef Otto spent much of his time feeding the hungry, while also working at The Pierre Hotel, the Delano Hotel, The Atlantis Resort & Casino, Mardan Palace, the Bellagio, Charlie Trotters, and as a Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. If you would like to read more about Chef Otto, the book, A Chef Is Born is available online. He is currently working as assistant chef to Chef Alfonso Constrisciani and works for Oliver farms.


“Chef Otto and I decided we wanted to apply classical preparations to the pheasants. We also took a Cajun approach with a few dishes since we were in New Orleans.’’

“I apprenticed under many Master Chefs in my younger days and learned that the classic preparations are always a winner when cooking game.   I also cook all game with lots of duck fat.  It’s neutral in flavor and an automatic baster.  I greatly enjoyed meeting all the folks from NAGA.   Thanks for the opportunity.”   Alfonso

Recipes from the NAGA Convention 2023:

Game Bird Marinade

For 6# game bird
Alfonso A Contrisciani, CMC, AAC
Edgewater Restaurant
12 oz olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1t thyme
1t tarragon
1T lemon juice
2t black pepper, ground
1c parsley, chopped 
1t onion powder
1T kosher salt
2t lemon zest
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Coat meat with marinade and chill overnight.

Pheasant Cassoulet

Serves 8
Otto Borsich, Executive Chef
Oliver Farms, Thornville, OH
3 oz canola oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1c smoked bacon, julienne
3c Spanish onions, julienned (divided)
2c celery, sliced on bias
2c carrots, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into ¼” 
2c parsnips, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into ¼”
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves, divided
1c Chardonnay
1c Demi glaze or 2c beef stock
1 ½ c black beans, cooked with 1 c onions from above, 
2t smoked paprika, 
and 1 bay leaf from above
2 lb pheasant leg confit (recipe follows)
2 lb tasso ham, heated, sliced thin as garnish
Parsley chopped fine as garnish
In heavy sauce pan, add canola oil and smoked bacon and render until half cooked. Add sliced garlic and continue to sauté until translucent. Add onions, celery, carrots, and parsnips and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add Thyme leaf and bay leaf. Continue cooking another 2-3 minutes. 
Add chardonnay and reduce by half. Add demi or beef stock. Add cooked drained beans and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Add pheasant leg confit and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve in casserole dish and garnish with Tasso ham and parsley.

Pheasant Leg and Thigh Confit

Serves 6
Alfonso A Contrisciani, CMC, AAC
Oliver Farms, Thornville, OH
6 oz canola oil
12 each pheasant leg and thighs
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 c Spanish onions, julienned
1 head fennel, washed, cored, julienned
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 T coriander, ground
1 t ginger, ground
4 each bay leaves
2T kosher salt
3T sugar
1T black pepper, ground
4c duck fat (you can usually find this at a specialty butcher, but call ahead to be sure)
Combine all ingredients except duck fat in a mixing bowl. Mix well and chill overnight. In non-reactive, heavy braising pan, brown pheasant legs and thighs until golden brown on both sides. Set aside. Sauté onions, garlic, and fennel in the same pot. Add duck fat and pheasant legs. Cover with foil or lid and bake at 275°F for 90 minutes or until pheasant is very tender. Cool in fat.

Crispy Pheasant Cracklin’ Salad

Serves 1 as a meal or 2 as a starter
Alfonso A. Contrisciani, CMC, AAC
Oliver Farms, Thornville OH
4 oz Pheasant Leg Confit (recipe above)
1c cornmeal, ground and seasoned with
¼ t black pepper, ground
¼ t thyme, ground
¼ t onion powder
1c grapeseed or other neutral oil with a high smoke point
3oz kale and field greens or any mix of hearty salad greens
1c granny smith apples, cored and sliced
1/4c dried cranberries
¼ cup pickled red onions (recipe follows)
2oz apple cider vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/4c candied pecans (such as NutKrack)
1/4c scallions, sliced
Pull leg and thigh meat off bones and separate sinew. Dust in seasoned cornmeal mixture and fry crispy. Reserve on paper towel.
Place greens in mixing bowl and add apple, cranberries, pickled onions, and pecans. Season with salt and pepper and dress with vinaigrette. Mix well. Garnish with pheasant and scallions.

Pickled Red Onions

1 red onion, julienned
1/4c apple cider vinegar
2t sugar
1t salt
Combine all ingredients and allow to rest for at least 4 hours.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

1/4c Apple cider vinegar
1/3c Extra virgin olive oil
1T Honey
1t Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4t salt to taste
Combine all ingredients.

Pecan Crusted Pheasant Breast, Bourbon Onion Molasses Sauce

Alfonso A Contrisciani, CMC AAC
Oliver Farms, Thornville, Ohio
Serves 4
4 Pheasant breasts, boneless, skinless
1c flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg, combined with 
1c milk
1c breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper, combined with 
1/2c pecans, ground
16oz Kentucky Bourbon, onion, molasses sauce (recipe below)
1qt Creole rice (recipe below)
3oz clarified butter or ghee
1/2c green onions, sliced
3c sliced zucchini
3c sliced yellow squash
4 oz candied pecans
Bread pheasant breast in seasoned flour, egg wash, and bread crumb mixture.
Prepare Creole rice and onion sauce.
Sauté pheasant in butter on both sides until golden brown. Finish in 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or until internal temperature reads 145°
Place creole rice on plate, pheasant on top of rice. Sauce with 3oz per plate. Sauté vegetables, season with salt and pepper and add to plate. Garnish with candied pecans.

Creole Rice

1/2c butter
1t Creole seasoning
2c cooked long grain rice
Pepper to taste
Melt butter, add creole seasoning, cook 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add rice, cover and heat through. Season to taste.

Creole seasoning

5T smoked paprika
3T salt
2T onion powder
2T garlic powder
2T dried oregano
2T dried basil
1T dried thyme
1T black pepper
1T white pepper
1T cayenne pepper

Kentucky Bourbon Onion Molasses Sauce

Alfonso Contrisciani, CMC, AAC
Edgewater Restaurant
Serves 16
3t canola oil
4 oz apple smoked bacon, chopped
2 Spanish onions, peeled & julienne
1 1/2t thyme, fresh
1 bay leaf
2T molasses
1 oz Jack Daniels
1oz Sherry
3t sherry vinegar
2c demi glace (or 8c beef stock, reduced to 2c)
2c veal stock 
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat heavy skillet, add oil and bacon. Render bacon over medium heat. Add onions and sweat until lightly caramelized. Add molasses and caramelize until deep golden brown. Add Jack Daniels, thyme, bay leaf, sherry vinegar, and sherry. Reduce for 5 minutes. Add demi-glace and veal stock and simmer 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Pheasant Steak “Diane” Over Gnocchi with Roasted Brussels sprouts

Otto Borsich, Executive Chef
Oliver Farms, Thornville, Ohio
Serves 4
4 pheasant breasts, boneless, skinless, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1/2c shallots, peeled and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4c cognac
1/4c dry white wine
2T Dijon mustard
1/2c heavy cream
1c demi glace or 4c beef stock reduced to 1c 
( A demi-glace is a rich, brown sauce based in French cuisine that is either used on its own or as a foundation for other sauces.)
Flat leaf parsley for garnish
8 slices baguette, toasted and buttered and rubbed with garlic clove halves
3c roasted brussels sprouts
3c gnocchi, toasted in butter and chopped fresh chives
Sauté seasoned pheasant breast on both sides until pheasant is cooked through (145° internal temperature).  Set aside.
In the same sauté pan, add shallots and garlic. Sweat for 2 minutes but do not brown. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté until mushrooms soften. Add Cognac, flambe. Add wine, mustard, reduce slightly, add heavy cream and reduce slightly. Add demi-glace, Worcestershire sauce, and adjust seasoning. 
To plate, place warm toast on center of plate. Slice and arrange reserved pheasant breast on each toast. Add brussels sprouts and gnocchi onto each plate. Drizzle sauce over the gnocchi and pheasant. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Game Bird Brine

Alfonso A Contrisciani, CMC, AAC
Oliver Farms, Ohio
1qt water
1qt apple juice
2 oz kosher salt
1/3c brown sugar
1qt ice
Heat water and apple juice and dissolve salt and sugar into it. Add ice. Be sure brine is cold before adding pheasant to it. Refrigerate overnight.

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