The Best Way to Cook Pheasant (Smoked or Sous Vide?)
The Best Way to Cook Pheasant (Smoked or Sous Vide?) - Meat Hacks
Learn the Best Way to Cook Pheasant with Walton's and Meatgistics. Watch the video, read the guide, and post your questions or comments below.
As any hunting enthusiast knows, cooking wild game presents a few more challenges than cooking a farm-raised store-bought cut of meat. These are animals that lived in the wild on different diets than what they are fed when raised on a farm. They tend to be a little tougher and can have a gamey taste to them. This doesn’t mean that we should just accept that they will give us an inferior finished product, though.
We’ve had some pheasant sitting in a freezer here for a while, and today we are going to prepare and cook them a few different ways and see which one gives us the best results. We have 16 breasts, so we are going to Smoke half of them and Sous Vide the other half. We are going to marinate a few of them overnight in butter-flavored seasoning, which has phosphates to increase the water-holding capacity of the meat, and then rub them with a few different seasonings. We are also going to marinade two of them with the Kentucky Bourbon Marinade, and two in the Smokey Habanero Chipotle sauce and then smoke and sous vide one of each and see which marinade and which cooking method we liked the best.
Now since this is pheasant, we do need to get the internal temp up to 165° for food safety, so we are going to set our sous vide for 165° and cook them for 4 hours. This will give us our lethality and make the meat nice and tender. For smoking, we are going to smoke them at 225° until the internal temp is 165° which should take about 2 hours, and we will smoke them over apple wood chips.
The ones we smoked were tasty but very dry. This is pretty common when smoking pheasant. The ones that were smoked and marinated with phosphates did retain some extra juice, but they were still more dry than I would generally prefer.
However, the Pheasant Breasts that we Sous Vide were very tender and plump! The ones that we marinated with Phosphate definitely did retain some extra moisture, but either way, they were still great and far more tender (and tasty) than the smoked ones. Another unintended consequence of Sous Videing them was that some of the gamey taste seemed to disappear.
All in all, if you have a way to Sous Vide your Pheasant or other birds, it is absolutely worth it!
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Jon I’m shocked that you didn’t lean on your upstate NY past and try Spiedie sauce. We marinate halves of any game birds for 24-48 hours just like chicken and grill over indirect heat, sear to finish. If you cube the breasts and skewer them, they would make a great sandwich. If you need a care package from the ROC, you know who to call…
Parksider A bit of an embarrassing fact is that I didn’t really eat wild game (other than venison jerky) when I was in upstate NY! It just wasn’t part of my culture at that point, moving down to Texas and now Kansas has fixed that but what is Spiedie Sauce?
It’s a vinegar, oil, and spice marinade, very popular in upstate NY. Usually chicken cubed in 1"ish pieces and marinaded for a few days, grilled on kabob skewers, and served on a sausage roll. We do halves of game birds, marinade in 2gallon zip locks then indirect grill. Keep some of the marinade to baste with since wild birds are very lean.