Pheasant are harvested all over the globe, most places more than the US, and prepared in limitless numbers of dishes as a substitute for chicken. We particularly like the love affair between pheasant and fall/winter. Root vegetables and wild foraged mushrooms are a pheasant's great friends/lovers.
Pheasant Under Glass
Likely the most difficult part of pheasant under glass will be finding the glass or some other lid under which to place the dish. the rest is very easy and the flavor and smells are incomparable.
- 4 whole large pheasant breast, split and boned
- 8 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 24 dried morels, brushed off
- 8 large shallots, peeled and chopped
- 8 large Chanterelle mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and sliced thin
- 8 tablespoons brandy
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 2⅓ cup heavy cream
- 6 teaspoons chicken demi-glace
- a few Pinches cayenne pepper
- Flatten pheasant breasts slightly with a mallet or rolling pin, then rub each with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and season with black pepper.
- Melt 4 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat in a 15-inch skillet. When it foams, sear the pheasant, skin side down, about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate, cover and keep warm.
- Steep the dried morels in 2 cups hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain and strain, reserving the soaking liquid. Discard stems and slice caps thinly.
- Melt the remaining tablespoons of butter in the skillet and saute the shallots for 2 minutes, until golden, then add the morels and chanterelle mushrooms for 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.
- Boil the reserved soaking liquid with the brandy and white wine until reduced by 1/2, about 4 minutes, then whisk in the cream and demi-glace and boil about 4 minute, until sauce is thickened and smooth. Whisk in the remaining lemon juice and the cayenne.
- Place the pheasant breasts skin side up on hot serving plates and top each with half the mushroom mixture, then the sauce.
- Enclose each breast with (ideally) a glass cover. Alert your guests to the olfactory possibilities. Once they are seated and you have their attention, lift the cover and fan the essence toward them, if necessary.
Smoked Pheasant (if you have a smoker...if not, get one!)
- 2 whole pheasants
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, about 2 1/4 ounces
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 cups water
- 3 cups maple syrup/calvados (2 parts syrup/1 part calvados) mixed, boiled down to 1 cup
Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Find a lidded container just about large enough to hold both pheasants. Cover them with the brine and let this sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours.
Take the pheasants out and pat them dry. Set on a cooling rack under a ceiling fan or in a breezy place and let them dry for 1 to 3 hours. You can also put the birds in a container uncovered in the fridge overnight. This drying process is an important step. If you skip it, the smoke will not adhere to the pheasant as well.
Smoke the pheasants over the wood of your choice – I prefer apple, hickory or pecan – for at least 3 hours, and up to 5 hours. I also prefer a wet smoke with a pan of water under the bird in a rack below. You want a relatively warm smoke, between 200°F and 250°F. Let the pheasants smoke for 1 hour before painting on the maple syrup, then baste with the syrup every 30 minutes afterward.
When the pheasants reach an internal temperature of 160°F in the thigh meat, take them out of the smoker. Put them on a cooling rack and baste them with maple syrup one more time. Wait at least 20 minutes before eating. They are excellent cold, too.
Pot Roasted Pheasant
- 3 TBSP butter
- 2 pheasants, cleaned
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 4 sage sprigs, leaves chopped
- 2 eating apples, cored and cut into large chunks
- 2 cups cider
- 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 Savoy or Napa cabbage, finely shredded
- 1/2 cup double cream
- mashed potato, to serve (optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a large non-stick flameproof dish. Season the pheasants with S&P, add to the dish and brown on all sides. Remove from the dish and set aside.
Add the bacon, onion, celery and sage to the dish and cook for 10 mins until the onion is soft and the bacon is crisp. Carefully pour off any excess fat.
Return the pheasants to the dish and scatter over the apples. Pour over the cider and the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 25 mins until the birds are cooked through.
Remove the birds from the dish and keep warm. Return dish to the stove over a high heat. Let the liquid bubble until reduced by half, then add the cabbage, cover with a lid and cook for 3 mins. Add the cream, check the seasoning, and continue cooking for 1 min more. Serve the pheasant on top of the cabbage mixture with some mashed potato, if you like.