6 tbsp. butter, softened
Pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup onions, chopped fine
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 slices lean bacon
1 cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. flour
1/3 cup heavy cream
Wash pheasant under cold water and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Rub cavity with 1 tbsp. soft butter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Truss bird with kitchen cord.
Heat 3 tbsp. butter in Dutch oven or heavy casserole dish over moderate head, add pheasant and brown on all sides. Do not burn. Place pheasant on plate.
Add onions to Dutch oven or heavy casserole and cook until brown, stirring occasionally. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping bits from side of oven. Stir in water or stock, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grindings of pepper.
Return pheasant and juices to Dutch oven and drape 2 slices of bacon across breast. Cover and simmer 45 minutes at low heat until tender. Test doneness by piercing thigh with tip of knife. Juice should be clear yellow; if tinged with pink, simmer for a few more minutes. Place bird on platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Discard bay leaf.
To make sauce, melt remaining butter in skilled over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or so.
Transfer contents of skillet to Dutch oven with rubber spatula. Stir in heavy cream and simmer until sauce thickens slightly. Taste and season. Carve pheasant into serving pieces, cover with sauce and serve at once with wild rice side dish.