Eben Proft, a gamekeeper based in southern Vermont, treats his birds far differently than the regional status quo. Pheasants are not native to the United States, and they rarely fare well outside of the windswept expanses of the midwest. These circumstances relegate them to a very perfunctory existence, primarily raised for sport, sold to hunting clubs, and shot by their members. Eben, however, raises his pheasants with their eventual culinary presentation in mind, in the spirit of the world’s finest game bird producers. After years of refining his craft through travel and apprenticeship in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, Eben received the prestigious Diploma in Gamekeeping from Sparsholt College of Hampshire, in the United Kingdom.
Now settled in southern Vermont, Eben’s operation is the culmination of his time-honored dedication. Raised on ample pasture and without antibiotics, these Ring Necked Pheasants are allowed to grow up away from cages, foraging a swath of carefully selected cover crops, gradually given more and more space to roam as they grow to maturity. Once ready, they are humanely slaughtered, and hung to age for two-three weeks to intensify their flavor before shipment. Nowhere else in the US hangs and dry ages their birds in this way, and the impact is sublime. While pheasants are known to have a mildly gamey flavor, Eben’s present a rich, earthy, dignified expression of that profile. In French cuisine, dry-aging a Pheasant is a standard practice, called faisandage. Once you’ve had the opportunity to try a Pheasant processed this way, it’s virtually impossible to go back. In Eben’s own words — “Anything on my table is dry-aged. I don’t bother with a fresh bird.” While “dry-aging” is a known practice for plenty of meats, upland game birds benefit from it even more dramatically than most. Because game birds are leaner, more muscular, and wilder than traditional poultry, dry-aging them allows the meat to tenderize, and for its complex flavor profile to coalesce and elegantly refine itself, not unlike an exquisite cru Burgundy once it’s had sufficient time in the cellar. The end result is simply an impeccable distillation of everything the bird can offer. Today, Eben’s birds are coveted by esteemed chefs and curious eaters around the world, but his production capacity is limited, unwilling to sacrifice quality for scale. We are incredibly honored to be among Eben’s partners.
Offered as whole birds, averaging 3 - 4 lbs.
Vermont, United States