I don’t believe I’ve ever met a pie I didn’t like.
For those unfamiliar with travel hunting, hunters have to consume birds that we shoot at a pace that equals harvest. Most states the possession limit is twice the daily bag limit. Say the daily bag is three pheasant and we are lucky to shoot a limit on back-to-back days of a week long trip. In order to be able to hunt and harvest pheasant the following day we need to clear space in our possession of six birds. Essentially on day three of the hunt we would be limited by how many birds we can eat.
At times we share birds with locals and landowners which can open room in possession limits. But often we are far from civilization and the only way to create legal room in the cooler is to get hungry.
I like to come up with recipes that put a twist on standard camp fare yet are not too fussy that prep time overtakes campfire camaraderie. With just a few ingredients and some fairly simple prep, these hand pies are great hot out of the oven. But, they might be even better out of the cooler the next day for midday hunt break with a hot cup of coffee from the thermos.
Granny Smith Pheasant Hand Pies
Classic pairing of ingredients, simple prep and leftovers for lunch the next day – hand pies are superior to sandwiches in every way.
- 4 Breast Pheasant You could also use thighs
- 2 Pie Crusts
- 1 Grannie Smith Apple
- 2 Jalapeno
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1 Cup Cheddar
- 1 Cup Gouda
- 1 Egg White
- Salt and Pepper
Cut the pheasant into 1/4" cubes – if you have time you can always brine birds overnight to add flavor and moisture, we often pound them flat as well to help tenderize.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the pheasant. Squeeze a half a lemon, season with salt and pepper. Sautéing in butter just helps add a fat component to a typically lean meat.
Preheat the oven (camp oven or campfire coals) to 350°
Slice the apple, dice the jalapeño, shred the cheeses while the pheasant cools and drains – place it on a paper towel if you're in camp.
We use pre-made pie crusts, but feel free to make your own dough. A package of two crusts is cut into equal thirds.
On one half of each dough segment stack apples, pheasant, jalapeño and cheese. You can play with the mix to your own liking depending on how much pepper heat versus tart apple and cheese you desire. I have a bad habit of overfilling which can make sealing the pies a bit of a challenge.
Use egg white for glue along the outside edge of the dough wedge opposite your filling, then carefully fold over the dough. Use the tines of a fork to seal the outside edge and poke a few steam vents in the top of each hand pie.
Brush the remaining egg white across the top of each pie to help get that nice golden finish.
Put the pies in the oven for 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Place pies on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before digging in or risk the internal lava removing multiple layers from the roof of your mouth.
If you have more birds, just be sure you have more pie dough. This made exactly six hand pies, but if your birds are bigger you might end up with enough filling for more.
Diced apples instead of thin slices could be a nice textural contrast.
You can freeze these hand pies prior to baking on a cookie sheet, then package them individually for the freezer. Grab and bake as desired for a no-prep lunch or dinner.