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Grilled Pheasant + Mojo Sauce

Whole Pheasant Grilled

This spatchcocked, grilled pheasant is probably one of the more satisfying meals I have made with wild game to date. The crispy skin is full of flavor from a homemade dry rub, the meat is tender and juicy, and the citrus-garlic Mojo sauce is so delicious.

Cuban Mojo Sauce

This Mojo sauce has it all: Sweet, Sour, Garlicky, and a little bit of kick. It’s great for serving as a dipping sauce with meat, fish and veggies, or you can use it as a marinade. It’s really easy to make and the recipe below yields about 2 Cups. You can always freeze what you don’t use, but I am willing to bet you put this sauce on any and everything.

Mojo sauce is definitely for garlic lovers, the Cubans did not skimp out when they created it. This recipe has 8 cloves in it, which seems like a lot, but somehow it works and it is so delicious!

This sauce really packs a punch which is why it’s so addicting. Traditionally, Mojo is made using sour oranges. Because I live in North Dakota and can’t get that, I used a blend of oranges and limes. A traditional Mojo would also have cumin and oregano in it, but I chose to leave them out because they are in the dry rub, and instead, used cilantro and jalapeños.

Spatchcock Pheasant

How to Spatchcock a Pheasant

Spatchcocked, also called Butterflied, is an easy way to break down a whole bird that you want to be grilled a little quicker and with a little more consistency.

To start, make sure the pheasant you use is in good shape (i.e. the legs aren’t shot into a million bone fragments). You can pluck the bird and keep the skin on, but you can also do skinless. If you choose to do skinless, you can marinate the pheasant in the Mojo sauce. But, if you want the skin to be really crispy, use the dry rub instead and follow the guidelines and get the full recipe at Wild + Whole.

Linguine and Pheasant Sauce

I tend to just make up recipes, don’t measure out ingredients and promptly forget not long after eating exactly how something came together. So before I forget, here’s a quick and easy pheasant pasta that we cooked up on a whim. Total prep time was around 30 minutes.


Ingredients:

4 pheasant breasts (or combination breasts and thighs)

1/2 Bottle White Wine — be sure it’s something you like to drink too

6 Cloves Garlic

Parsley

Grated Parmesan Cheese

3/4 Stick of Butter

Flour (a few tablespoons)

Half n Half, or cream

Salt, Pepper

Your Favorite Pasta  (we used spinach pasta)

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First, get your pasta water salted and boiling so that you aren’t waiting for your pasta to cook once you finish the sauce.

On a cutting board pound out your pheasant to a uniform thickness. This helps tenderize tough birds – cover with plastic wrap to keep the mess to a minimum. Next, cut your pheasant across grain in thin strips – think clam size since the inspiration of this recipe is Linguine and Clam Sauce.  Mince the garlic gloves and a good handful of the parsley just so you have all the knife work done.

Place a large skillet on the stove on high heat and begin melting the butter. Once it is good and hot,  slide the pheasant in and begin sautéing. When the meat is cut into this strips like this, it really takes very little time to cook through. Cooking in butter helps keep lean pheasant moist. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and stir. Once your meat is cooked through, sprinkle enough floor into the pan to soak up the remaining butter when mixed – won’t take much, maybe a few tablespoons. We’re using the flour as a thickener.

Now pop the cork on that wine and add about a half bottle, stirring into the meat mixture. Once it comes back up to temperature, you’ll get a good idea of how thick your sauce is. Add more wine if it’s too thick for your liking. Add the handful of parsley and let some of the alcohol continue to burn off.  I like creamy sauces that coat the noodles, so here’s where I included a liberal splash of half-n-half. Finally add the grated parmesan – how much really depends on how cheesy you like it, but 1/4 cup is a good starting place.

Your pasta should be drained and ready to plate. Give your sauce a taste first for seasoning, add pepper and salt as needed. Then spoon a generous helping over your pasta. Garlic bread would be a great addition. Enjoy!

Super Bowl of Pheasant Chili

Here’s an easy recipe for game day. When you serve some rooster chili everyone is a guaranteed winner.

Ingredients:
2 Poblano (Anaheim) peppers, chopped
2 Jalapeño peppers, chopped
1 Cherry Pepper, diced
1 Large Onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb pheasant breast and thighs (2 birds), 1/2″ cubed
2-3 c. Chicken broth (depending how thick you like your chili)
3 cans cannelini beans, drained
4 T. butter
2 t. Cumin
Salt and white pepper to taste
Shredded white cheddar for topping

Directions:
1. In large pot, saute onion and pheasant in butter until the cubed meat is browned
2. Season with salt, white pepper and cumin
3. Add the pepper trio
4. Cook on med-high until peppers are soft
5. Add garlic
6. Add chicken broth to desired consistency (2-3 cups)
7. Purée one can of beans and fold into the mix, they act as a thickener.
8. Add the other two cans of whole beans
8. Simmer until thickens, about one hour or longer if thicker consistency desired
9. Serve with tortilla chips and top with a big handful of cheese

Enjoy!

Pluck it

It certainly is more convenient to breast out game birds. After a long day of hunting the bulk of uplanders look for the quickest way to clean birds and get them in the cooler. And if you have hunted for any length of time you probably have the breasting down to a science.

There are a number of recipes that call for whole bird preparation though. Most chefs would cringe at the idea of discarding the game bird skin which can become crispy goodness in the pan. So this season before standing on the wings and pulling on the legs to separate the upper and lower half of the bird, I encourage you to take a few extra moments and pluck a couple.

With pheasant, part of the challenge of plucking is that the skin tends to be very thin. From my experience, the best way to pluck a rooster and keep the most skin intact is to immediately begin defeathering as soon as it comes to hand. This isn’t practical in many hunting situations. But keep it in mind when you happen to harvest a bird on your walk back to the truck.

I like to reserve plucking for birds that are close to pristine; the ones I’ve somehow managed to put all the shot in the head and neck. These are the birds that can truly impress your non-hunting friends at the table.

Many states also have wanton waste regulations which make breasting birds a no no. Upland birds’ legs tend to have more tendon than meat, which is likely why there is hesitation to clean the whole bird. But the thighs of these birds are prime cuts (most grouse and pheasant included). So if plucking isn’t an option, take a few extra minutes and cuts to separate the thigh meat from the bone. It is well worth the time and will dramatically increase the amount of meat you get from a harvested bird with very little effort.

And just as a little extra incentive, here’s a recipe we just found. And now I need to find a chestnut tree.

 

Pheasant With Chestnuts

For pheasant:
2 garlic heads, peeled
1 pheasant, about 2-3 pounds
2 stems of thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For chestnuts:
2 tablespoons butter
12 chestnuts fresh or frozen
2 cups chicken stock
Salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Split the garlic heads in half and place in the pheasant cavity with the thyme, salt and pepper. Use butcher string to tie pheasant legs together. Place in roasting pan and cook at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
Add butter to a large saute pan and melt on medium heat. Add chestnuts and chicken stock. Simmer until soft, but not broken. Remove and season with salt.Meanwhile, prepare chestnuts.

To serve, place pheasant on a platter with hot chestnuts.
Makes 2 servings.
Approximate values per serving: 948 calories, 52 g fat, 322 mg cholesterol, 98 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4,230 mg sodium, 49 percent calories from fat.

Note: Recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of salt to rub on pheasant before roasting. If you change that to 1 teaspoon, the total sodium amount would be 1,905 mg sodium.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/20121023pheasant-chestnuts.html#ixzz2AKHBP0AH

Pheasant Chowder

2 pheasants (thighs and breasts)
4 celery stalks sliced
1/2 lb. bacon strips sliced
1 large onion diced
32 oz. of chicken broth (low sodium if desired)
4 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes – peeled and cubed
3 cloves garlic diced
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups half n half
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Had an epiphany while eating clam chowder one evening; the texture of the clams in the soup is truly close to that of a tough old rooster. Hope you enjoy the resulting culinary concoction.

Peel and dice potatoes and place in a separate pot cover with the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they are soft.

Slice the pheasant meat across grain into strips similar to the size of a clam strip. Slice bacon and put in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add diced celery and onion and cook until the the bacon and celery is cooked through and onions are transparent. Add the garlic and pheasant. The meat should cook through fairly quickly because of the small sized pieces. At this point add the flour a tablespoon at a time while stirring the mixture which should thoroughly coat the vegetables and meat.

Add the potatoes and broth from the separate pot. Once incorporated stir in the half-n-half and finally include the parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. This chowder is ready to eat once heated through, but if you simmer for a bit the flavors should continue to meld and it will only get better.

Serve on a cold day with some warm beer bread. It is the perfect meal to follow a brisk day afield.

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