When you have access to the pheasant, wild or farm-raised, it would be a pleasant addition to the dinner table. Pheasant is a game bird that resembles chicken, though leaner. It is a galliforme, from the order of other game birds like turkey, quail, guinea fowl and the like. The pheasant, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA), is a native from Asia but it’s now raised in most parts of the world. In these parts, you’re sure to find local pheasant recipes adapting to the spices, herbs and seasonings available in the country.
There are even organizations devoted to the conservation, habitat improvements and public awareness of this game bird, like The World Pheasant Association based in the United Kingdom and the Pheasants Forever, a charitable organization in the United States.
When purchasing pheasant meat, make sure you get it from reputable gourmet food suppliers and farm-growers. Quality and safely packaged pheasant meats ensure that you get the best ingredient for your pheasant recipes. “The female of this medium-size game bird (weighing about 3 pounds) has more tender, plump, and juicy meat than the male, which weighs about 5 pounds,” says the USDA. Pheasant has a pinkish white meat and a delicate flavor. The wild pheasant, on the other hand, has a rich gamy flavor.
Since most wild game like pheasant tend to be leaner than domesticated and farm-raised chicken or cattle, agreeable methods of cooking include braising, basting, and “larding or barding (inserting slivers of fat or wrapping in bacon) to help keep the meat tender during cooking.” For smaller cuts of pheasant meat like tenderloin medallions or rib chops, the USDA recommends “fast searing over high heat.”
So remember most of these moist heat cooking methods when developing your pheasant recipes. Moist heat is also essential for older birds while young birds may be roasted, grilled, fried or smoked. Smoked pheasant breasts are available as a specialty product in gourmet stores—debone, dice and put them in a wild rice salad for something hearty and healthy.
As an example, pheasant au vin, is cooked like the French coq au vin. The whole pheasants are marinated in red wine, cloves, onion, bay leaf and sage then it is browned with butter on a skillet before roasting in an oven for an hour and a half.
Wild or farm raised pheasant meat may benefit also from slow cooking. It’s a moist heat form of cooking where the heat is low and friendly for the tender meal.