If you’re planning to serve pheasant or turkey this Thanksgiving, a couple of Iowa politicians tout their own recipes. Governor Tom Vilsack claims to be the turkey-roaster in his family, and he says the key is placing the bird breast-down in the pan.

Senator Tom Harkin boasts that his pheasant recipe has been printed in the magazine “Pheasants Forever.” Harkin starts by putting flour in a plastic bag, then coating the pheasant in that flour. You melt some butter in a skillet, then brown chopped onions in the skillet. Take those onions out of the skillet, then add some herbs and a can of beer. Put the pheasant in the skillet, then put the onions on top.

Harkin says you cook it on top of the stove for about half an hour — as the beer evaporates, you add more beer. Then, he takes the bird out of the skillet and puts it in a roaster in the oven to keep warm while he makes gravy out of what’s left in the skillet.

“I’m telling you, it’s to die for,” Harkin says. “You ought to try it.” Harkin doesn’t claim to have come up with the method or the ingredients on his own. “Like anything else, you plagiarize,” Harkin says. “There was a recipe I read once on ducks, and it was similar, and so I just experimented with it and changed it around a little bit because duck is a lot different than pheasant because it has a lot of fat and all that stuff, and then I just kind of adapted it as my own.”
Tom Harkin’s Family Pheasant Recipe

1 pheasant, split in half
1 onion, chopped
1/4 c. oil
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground rosemary
1 c. flour
1 can beer (light or dark)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 c. water
dash of salt & pepper

Directions: put 1/2 pheasant in a bag with one cup of flour and tumble. Repeat for other half. Lightly brown onions in oil on stove, remove and place in bowl to cool. Lightly brown pheasant in oil over high heat. Dissolve bouillon cube in ¼ water, add one can of beer, bay leaves, rosemary, salt and pepper into bouillon broth. Pour broth mixture into pan with pheasant. Pour onions over pheasant, cover and cook on stove on low heat for 30-40 minutes – add more beer as desired. Remove pheasant and onions from pan and place, covered, in roaster in warm oven. Finally, add enough flour to leftover beer broth to make a smooth gravy. Remove the bay leaves from the gravy. Serve the pheasant over wild rice.