Poultry and Game Recipes

Braised Wild Pheasant

My neighbor was invited to a upland game club shoot in California last
month followed two weeks later by a big UPS box filled with dry ice
and six dressed and frozen pheasants. “But we don’t really care
for game. Would you like to have the pheasants?” ” . . .but
of course, if you insist,” said I.

These pheasants are smaller than farm raised birds–coming in at under
two pounds each. For fun, I looked at about 20 pheasant recipes in my
library. No surprise: most called for roasting or braising pheasant.
Most all favored breast meat. Some cooked the legs and thighs separately
and longer. One reserved the pheasant legs for stock! Some cooked the
birds whole, others cut ’em up into as many as six pieces. From the
outset, I planed to braise the pheasants and use my bomb-proof GameHens Mediterranean recipe. That recipe calls for using a heavy cleaver
to split a bird through the breast and then removing the back bone–leaving
two halves. OK, but the next time I do these I will split the bird as
before and then separate the thigh and leg from the breast. This will
make it easier to eat the leg and thigh portion, which remains more
dense (tougher) than the breast portion, no matter how long it’s braised.
(Pheasants run a lot.)

The pheasants were brined over night and then dried and split in the
morning. The braising method calls for browning the birds in oil and
then cooking them tightly covered with some liquid but not a lot. The
Dutch oven was invented for this. Fire it on the stove top or in an
oven (oven preferred). In the photo, six pheasant halves are in a heavy
paella pan which, while in the oven, was tightly covered with aluminum.
This did the work of a huge (18qt) Dutch oven, which I don’t have or
want. The pheasant was accompanied by a wild rice/basmati rice salad,
in the manner of the couscous salad below.

So here we have:

Braised Wild Pheasant

Yield:  4 servings

See Abbreviations, if needed

• 2 pheasants, brined, split with backbone removed, leg
and thigh cut free of the breast

• 4 oz EVOO

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1.5 T herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning

• 1/3 C dried prunes, pitted and diced

• 1/3 C dried apricots pitted and diced

• 1/3 C dried cherries pitted and diced

• 1/3 C pitted and sliced black olives

• ¼ C capers, drained

• 6 pickled lemons, quartered (optional) Middle East/ Mediterranean
food markets

• 6 bay leaves

• 1/3 C brown sugar

• 1/3 C red wine vinegar

• 1/3 C white wine

• S/P

• 2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley (garnish)


1. Brine the whole pheasants overnight (cup of sugar, cup of salt and
water to cover)

2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients

except the pheasants and white wine.  Mix well

3. Cover and refrigerate the mixture overnight

4. In the morning, dry the pheasants and cleaver-split them through
the breasts and remove the backbones

5. Rub each half with S/P, and brown them in a hot skillet in EVOO and
set aside

6. When ready, preheat oven to 350F

7. Remove the marinade from the fridge and add the white wine

8. Arrange the pheasant halves in a Dutch oven or roaster pan and spoon
over the marinade

9. Braise, covered, for 50 to 65 minutes until leg joints move and the

have an internal temperature of 145F

10. When done, remove the braising pan from the oven, carefully tilt
it and skim the fat (if any)

off the braising mixture

11. Transfer the hens to a heated serving platter (or serve all
from the pot onto heated plates)

12. Spoon the braising mixture over each serving

13. Top the pheasant with a little parsley before serving

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