If you’re not a hunter in the midwest, pheasant is not a game bird with much awareness. However, it is truly delectable when cooked properly, and should be more popular. This recipe for Asian glazed smoked pheasant turned out really well, and I was pleased to serve it to some friends. If you get the opportunity to try pheasant, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Dry Brining for flavor and moisture
I am not a huge brining person. First, I generally don’t have that much time before working on a recipe. Secondly, I just don’t prefer the flavor. But, never say never my friends. I decided to dry brine the two pheasants I was cooking and was very pleased with the results. The pheasants were very flavorful, and maintained an amazing amount of moisture, making for a very good meal. While you can dry brine very simply with just kosher salt, I added some seasonings and it really helped out the overall flavor.
The most important factor for juicy poultry is temperature
Am I glad I dry-brined these pheasants? Yes. Did it help the moisture? Probably. But the single most important factor in getting juicy poultry is properly cooking it. Poultry hits the “safe zone” at 165 degrees. “White meat” starts getting drier after that temp. The dark meat actually is better at a higher temperature, around 175. So, right from the get-go, you have a problem. Cook the dark meat slightly higher than the breasts. Well, if you have a fairly consistent cooker or grill, this really kind of works out on its own. The dark meat is usually thinner, and we tend to place it closer to the heat, so it will cook slightly faster. So the real key is monitoring temperatures so you get a properly cooked bird. I used MEATER probes, one in a breast and one in a thigh to ensure things were coming along perfectly. I pulled the pheasants about 4 degrees below my target temps and then covered them to let them rest. The carryover heat moved the temps into the perfect temp for serving. Knowing the exact degree your meal is at is a game-changer, and I highly recommend you invest in some MEATERS for cooking proficiency and enjoyment.
Carving and serving
I had a couple of friends over, so I cooked two pheasants for four people. It was more than enough. Pheasants have a surprising large breast for a gamebird, so there was plenty of white meat to carve. I basically carved them like small turkeys.
As always, I hope you enjoy!Print