Cooking Pheasant 101: Do Not Over Cook

The Common Pheasant, the most important bird f...
Look at this beautiful ring neck pheasant!

I must of spent 10 years eating disgusting pheasant, then 5 more, trying to hide it in the freezer from my husband so he wouldn’t attempt to cook it himself (Sorry honey it was just plain bad). I tried many different recipes, but they all had one thing in common, a long cooking time. I thought, if it’s tough, I should cook it even longer. The only reason I thought that way, was because every recipe I found had a long cooking time or it called for a marathon cooking session in the crock pot with loads of fattening clop dumped in with it. I thought others had it all figured it out-NOT! I tossed every single recipe in the trash and I was determined to make this beautiful bird taste good!

My aha moment came from a desperate craving for wild game, walnuts and blueberries (I’m really into the, “eating like our ancestors” thing). Yes, I know it’s a weird combo, but it was the healthiest combo I could come up with. Some of you who know me well, know I’ve been touting this for years. I haven’t posted that  “Aha” recipe yet, but be sure and look for it in the near future. Wild game is so healthy! Hopefully I will have time to post about why its so healthy soon too.

Pheasant meat is very soft and tender. The bird doesn’t fly much (compared to duck) so It’s breast meat is relatively tender. The leg meat is difficult to remove from the little bony tendons that run the length of the shin bone, but don’t skip out on this great piece of meat because it is super flavorful. I filmed how to scrap the meat of the pheasant leg on the up coming edition of Minnesota Bound with Ron Schara that will air on Nov. 20th. The recipe is called Pheasant Breakfast Sausage. Look for it under Minnesota Bound Recipes.

Lisa Erickson Cooking with Minnesota bound
Here I am with Ron Schara, discussing how to fillet fish.

Pheasant is best when it is flash cooked. Cook it until it is just done -no more! This makes it a fabulous meat for a week night or when your in a hurry and don’t have alot of time to wait for dinner to cook, which is me-most of the time! Last night, my husband was out hunting grouse with Leo our 13 year old. It was his first time hunting grouse and I had 2 whole pheasants ready to go in the fridge from a previous hunt at a game farm earlier in the week, in case they got skunked. They saw 5 birds, but were unable to bag any and came home empty handed. They still had a great time walking the woods and spending time together. Bummer for me because I love grouse!

I flash cooked the pheasant and served it on a bed of wild rice that I had cooked earlier. Then, I made a pan sauce with horseradish,  yogurt (yup you guessed it, I chose yogurt because it’s a healthier choice), onions, and lemon. All this took less than 25 minutes. The boys ranted and raved over how good the pheasant was (even my dad, who had also stopped over and is the pickiest eater I know– loved it!). My favorite part was that our other son George (10) helped me cook it!

Pan Fried Pheasant with Yogurt Cream Sauce and Wild Rice

¼ stick of butter

4 Pheasant breasts and leg meat removed from the bone seasoned with salt and pepper. Reserve entire carcass for homemade pheasant broth.

1 onion sliced thin into rings

1/3 cup water

1 clove of garlic smashed

1 ½ tablespoons of bottled horseradish cream

½ of lemon, juiced

½ cup Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons of chopped parsley or lemon basil

Melt butter over med-high heat in a heavy bottomed fry pan. When butter begins to turn golden on the edges of the pan add pheasant and cook until edges of pheasant begin to turn white and flip. Continue to cook and when the other side is lightly browned, remove from pan and place the pheasant cutlets on a holding plate and cover with foil. Watch carefully so the butter does not begin to burn. Try not to use a Teflon pan; otherwise you will not have much for pan scrapings to make a lovely colored pan sauce.

Add onions to pan and cook until they are slightly soft. Add water and scrap up bottom of pan dripping (also known as frond) add the garlic, horseradish cream, and lemon juice. Return the pheasant to the pan and cover until pheasant pieces are just cooked completely, about 3-4 additional minutes. Off the heat and add yogurt, parsley, and stir to coat pheasant pieces. Plate with wild rice pilaf, pheasant, onions and pan sauce, serve immediately as the rice can cool quickly.

Wild Rice Pilaf

2 carrots peeled and chopped

1 onion chopped into large pieces

2 tablespoons of butter

6 cups pheasant stock or chicken stock

8 oz of raw wild rice

Place wild rice and broth in large covered sauce pan and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for an additional 10 minutes. Dump off remaining broth and fluff and leave rice covered. In a separate fry pan saute carrots over medium heat until they begin to soften about 5 minutes add onions and cook until the onions are transparent about, 3 more minutes. Stir the carrot and onions into the wild rice and keep covered until ready to serve.

For those of you that live in the Twin Cities area, tune in to WCCO radio and listen in as I discuss cooking pheasant with Ron Schara and Mike Max tonight at 7:15-30.


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2 thoughts on “Cooking Pheasant 101: Do Not Over Cook

  1. What do you mean by “flash cook” the pheasant? Also, I really like you blog. I’m a life long outdoors person/hunter and have lately got on a reverting to the past type of life style: half living off the land/half living off of community. I will definitely be following your blog.

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