After hours in the fields, chasing the wily ring-necked pheasant, preparation of the prized bird for the table can sometimes be intimidating.
But for those who grew up anticipating the fall, when the delicious delicacy is fresh from the field, we were trained to think of the pheasant like we would a chicken, but just more flavorful and preparation more time-consuming.
After a successful hunt, knowing how to prepare and cook pheasant will add to the tradition of the family experience of hunting season.
Although many of us find a favorite recipe and stick to it, there is a variety of ways to prepare pheasant that hunters and family will appreciate.
Because wild birds have more muscle than domestic birds like chicken or turkey, the meat they produce is lean and has little fat. For that reason, marinating can help tenderize the birds. In a plastic bag, place skinned pheasant in a marinade of salt or soy sauce, olive oil or melted butter and an acid such as apple cider vinegar.
Another way to add fat to a bird is to use a dry spice rub mixed with butter on the skin of the pheasant and insert pats of butter or rub olive oil under the skin directly on the meat.
Pheasant can be prepared in some of the same ways we prepare chicken or turkey, but adding fat and cooking the bird longer than domestic birds is key to tasty and tender pheasant. Pheasant should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the bird to take the temperature. In general, pheasants weighing less than five pounds can be roasted. Cook in a shallow pan, covered with foil if needed to prevent excess browning, at 350 degrees for one to two hours. For bigger birds, a slow cooker or Dutch oven on low heat in liquid broth or sauce for three hours or more will cook the bird thoroughly and ensure that it is tender.
Pheasant in Mushroom Sauce
2 pheasants, cut into fourths
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 10.75-oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
Place the pheasant in a 3 1/2 to 6 qt. slow cooker.
Mix remaining ingredients except paprika. Pour over pheasant. Sprinkle generously with paprika.
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until pheasant is tender.
Grilled Pheasant Kabobs
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. pheasant breasts
1 4 oz. jar sliced jalapeno peppers,
12 slices bacon, cut into thirds
6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water
Cut the pheasant breast into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Pour the juice from the jalapeno peppers over the pheasant and marinate for 20 minutes.
Preheat outdoor grill for medium heat; lightly oil the grate. Drain the marinade from the pheasant. Place a slice of jalapeno pepper onto each piece of pheasant breast, and wrap with a bacon strip and slide onto skewer. Place 4 to 6 rolled wraps on each skewer. Place kabobs on the grill, turning frequently for 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and grilled.
1 pheasant, any size
1 tsp. salt
1 box herbed prepared stuffing, use your favorite
4 to 6 slices bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season bird by rubbing it with salt and fill the cavity loosely with prepared stuffing mix.
Truss the legs and place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
Place bacon slices over the breast side by side.
Roast for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.
3 pheasants, split
1⁄2 cup butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1⁄2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Saute pheasants in butter 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from skillet and sautee mushrooms in butter remaining in skillet 10 minutes, then return pheasant to skillet. Add wine, lemon juice, onions, salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer 1 hour or until tender.
If oven preparation is prefered, bake at 375 degrees for about two hours.
Pheasant and Wild Rice
1 cup long grain wild rice (makes 3 cups)
3 cups cubed stale bread
1 cup thin sliced onion
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup celery, diced a
2 tsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. sage
Wash wild rice until the rinse water comes off clear.
Cook the wild rice in four cups of boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not stir.
Saute™¡ the onions and celery in 1/4 cup butter until translucent; add parsy and cook only until hot.
Combine wild rice, bread, sautéed vegetables, sage and chicken stock. Lightly salt the inside of the bird, and fill the cavity of the bird (if desired). Tie with kitchen cord around legs and tail tightly. Brush bird with melted butter and dust with flour.
Bake in 325 degree oven for approximately 2 hours. Any remaining dressing can be placed in a covered baking dish and cooked in the oven alongside the bird.
2 pheasants, quartered
1 1/2 cups prepared seasoned flour (salt, pepper and paprika)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced onion
3 cups prepared chicken stock
4 cups heavy cream, whipped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 t salt
6 Tbsp. cream sherry
6 Tbsp. white cooking wine
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll pheasant in flour; shaking off excess. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot; brown pheasant in oil.
Transfer pheasant to Dutch oven; add minced onions and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake two hours. Add cream, mushrooms, salt, sherry, and wine; bake an additional 1 1/2 hours or until pheasant is tender and sauce is thick. Salt and pepper to taste.