That’s right, I said it, smoked pheasant breast. Pheasant is something you do not normally see when you go grocery shopping, however, I was lucky enough to be provided one from a hunter, a hunter I have yet to meet. They call him “Boot”, and as he has been following my site for some time, and has interest in cooking, he decided to give us a couple of fairly large pheasant breasts and had the curiosity to see what I would produce.
Pheasant is much like chicken if you think about it, however, just a bit more gamy in flavor, but a good flavor at that. As I opened the bag to inspect the pheasant breasts, I was startled to see the wing feather still attached. I thought that was pretty darn cool, but later learned that it is something that must be left on while hunting to indicate the catch. As my wife and children were out of the kitchen and off doing other things, I quickly removed the feathers, and quickly discarded them. I wanted them to try the “chicken”, and the sight of the wing might have freaked them about a bit.
So here I was, looking at these great pheasant breasts. They looked nothing like a regular chicken breast. These were a bit more dark in color, and did not have any skin attached. I know what I wanted to smoke them, but I also wanted some flavor in there as well. With that said, I came up with a bacon wrapped pheasant breast, generously seasoned in salt,
- 2 whole pheasant breasts
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 2 pieces of thick cut bacon
- Wild rice, cooked
- 16 oz mushrooms, preferably a mixed medly
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of craisins
- Additional salt and pepper for taste
- 1/2 cup of Cherry wood chips, soaked in water
So I began by generously seasoning the breasts with salt, pepper, and the zest and juice of the orange. I then wrapped the breast, covering most of it with the bacon. Place it in the refrigerator while your smoker, or in my case, my grill/smoker heats up. You want it about 250 degrees.
Once your smoker is ready, add the breasts, then head in and make your wild rice. Cook the wild rice according to the directions on the package. During this time, get a large cast iron skillet out, heat up the butter on medium heat, and add in all of your mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes or so, stirring often. Once the rice is cooked, fold in all of the mushrooms, as well as the craisins. Set aside.
The breast should take you about one hour to cook, but about 45 minutes in to the cooking process, add the wood chips to the coals and let the breasts get a nice hit of the cherry smoke. Once the breast is cooked remove it from the smoker, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. When you are ready to plate, get a platter out, lay down the rice, and add the breasts to the top of the rice. Slice, and serve.
Truly great flavors, and a nice new take on serving something different on the table. Oh yeah, and the wild rice and mushrooms were a great pairing with the pheasant. I used the leftovers, believe or not, and made pheasant pot pies. Enjoy.