Pheasants look glorious because of their colorful feathers. However, due to their affordable yet delicious meat, they are being eaten by people all over the world. Another factor is how health-conscious consumers nowadays prefer white over red meat. Also, a lot of hunters like to use pheasants as part of their sport since these birds are small, nimble and abundant. Without further ado, let’s learn how to cook pheasant.
How to Brine Pheasant
The meat of pheasants can be tough and dry to eat. A sure way to prevent this dilemma in a faster manner than other methods is by brining the meat first. Brining keeps moisture in the meat, helps decrease the possibility of overcooking it, eliminates organisms that are harmful to your tummy, and adds gentle yet catchy flavors. However, always remember that kosher or self-basting pheasant meat does not need brining anymore.
Before we give the major types of pheasant brine, you must know first our safety tips. The container for brining must be nonreactive to acid and salt. So, it is best to use a glass food storage or airtight container.
The recommended duration for brining pheasants is eight hours at 34 degrees to ensure that the meat will fully absorb the salt solution. However, you may extend it to not more than 24 hours. If you cannot use refrigeration for brining, then you can use ice to take over half of the solution. Then, just keep the pheasant in brine inside a large cooler. Cool temperature is a must for safe brining.
To finish with the process, just pat the meat dry. Do not rinse it. Cook the meat directly after brining to preserve the good effects from the solution. Now, here are different types of brine for a softer pheasant meat:
For a more exciting taste that will definitely satisfy lovers of Indian and Southwestern cuisines, spicy brine includes curry aromatics such as peppercorns, fresh or dried chili peppers, cayenne pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Just be careful that you will not put too much spice in the brine because it might ruin the pheasant’s unique taste.
If you do not want a spicy pheasant dish, then you can focus on having more intense flavors in the meat. It is best to use savory ingredients that can easily dissolve in the water. Common examples of savory brine components are herbs and vegetables such as allspice, thyme, sage, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic, onions, and carrots. Depending on the recipe, half of the solution can be composed of vegetable stock.
Orange or apple is perfect for a fruity flavor in the pheasant meat. You may use its juice or slices as an addition to the brine’s base. Other sweet ingredients you can use are molasses, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Just a heads up, fruit can slow down the effects of brine. That may result in a longer waiting time. One solution is to add a small amount of baking soda to neutralize the acid.
Of course, you can always go back to basics for a more traditional taste. A basic brine is technically just a simple salt solution. Kosher salt is a good choice because it does not have iodine, which can change the pheasant’s taste. A little sugar can be added, but that’s solely based on your preferences.
For the specifics, it is recommended that the ratio for the basic brine must be one to two cups of salt to one gallon of warm water. One cup should be for table salt while two cups are for kosher. Warm water is perfect when you need a shorter time for brining since it dissolves salt faster.
After creating the brine, make sure that the pheasant will fully submerge in it. Then, let the brine do its work inside a refrigerator.
How to Cook Pheasant
In cooking pheasant, you can either roast or grill it. Simple, right?
Roasted pheasant matches perfectly with vegetables, mashed potatoes and white wine, which makes one great serving. For a more delicious roasted meat, you can roast pheasant together with sliced turnips, celery root, parsnips, potatoes, and carrots.
This roast pheasant recipe from Hank Shaw is a promising meal for four people, perfect for families. The ingredients are simple: two whole pheasants in a fruity brine made of eight cups of water, a half cup of kosher salt, two tablespoons of sugar, two bay leaves and one tablespoon of crushed juniper berries, two tablespoons of softened butter or olive oil, and black pepper.
You just need an oven for roasting. It must be at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit but not more than 500. After prepping the meat from the brine, put olive oil or butter and black pepper all over it. While the oven continues to heat up, you can also stuff the meat with herbs, apple or onion.
Once you are satisfied with the preparations, roast the meat for 15 minutes. Afterwards, take it out and lower the oven’s temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, put the meat back in the oven for another 30 to 45 minutes. The end result must be a pinkish meat with an internal temperature of 155 to 165 degrees.
Before serving, let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes. Do not exceed 15 minutes for a juicier meat.
First off, set the electric or outdoor grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheating usually takes 20 minutes. For the meat’s coating, melt three tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a skillet or any nonstick pan over low heat. You can also use a microwaveable cup. Brush the mixture all over the meat. Then, sprinkle ground black pepper on all sides.
Each side must be initially cooked for seven minutes. Grill the meat until its internal temperature in the thickest part reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Before serving, cover the meat with aluminum foil. Leave it for five minutes.
No one likes a dry, tough meat so make sure to brine the pheasant first before cooking. It takes so many hours to brine, but we assure you that it is all worth it. Besides, cooking the meat is so easy that it only takes less than an hour usually. You just have to roast or grill the meat. Be generous with the side dishes and garnish for a heartier meal.