When Americans think of poultry, chicken is far and away the first thing that comes to mind, followed by turkey. Pheasants have been in the United States since the late 18th century and are a rather exotic poultry option.
Cooked pheasant tastes different depending on whether it was farm-raised or grew in the wild. Farm-raised pheasant is said to taste like chicken, only richer, while wild pheasant typically has a stronger and gamier flavor. Unless you're hunting, the pheasant you cook is the farm-raised variety. Soaking the pheasant in salt water, as is detailed in this recipe, cuts any gamey flavor, and cooking the bird in a marinade helps to keep it moist.
- 1 pheasant
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
- Optional: barbecue sauce
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (optional)
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Rinse the pheasant.
- Place the pheasant in a large bowl with salt and cover with water.
- Let the bird soak for 1 hour, then drain and rinse.
- Combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic (if you're using it), liquid smoke, Tabasco sauce, vinegar and onion powder.
- Put the pheasant and the marinade in large, non-reactive container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir the marinade occasionally to keep pheasant coated.
- Discard the marinade and transfer the pheasant to slow cooker.
- Add 1/2 cup of water or chicken broth.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.
- About 30 minutes before the pheasant is done, coat it with barbecue sauce, if desired.
Since pheasant is really a variation on chicken or turkey as far as flavor goes, the sides that go best with those meats also go well with pheasant. Mashed potatoes, white rice with sauteed mushrooms and onions, rice pilaf, barley or roasted russet potatoes all make great side dishes. Steamed fresh broccoli, corn or steamed fresh green beans tossed in olive oil and seasoned with garlic and Parmesan are compatible vegetable choices. French bread is always a good addition to a poultry entree. Pair roasted pheasant with a dry white wine like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. If you feel a bit adventuresome, try Spanish Albarino or Italian Orvieto.