When I was younger (and just learning English), I confused pheasant with phoenix. For the longest time, I thought “pheasants” were mythical creatures, which we call 鳳凰 (feng-huang) in Chinese. Ironically, pheasants are 野雞 (yie-ji, translated to be “wild chicken”). Phoenix is often paired with dragon in the Chinese culture (and often used to represent royalty), whereas “wild chicken” has a different connotation.
Prior to my roasting adventure, I did some research online. My goal was to find a recipe that will preserve moisture and make the meat more flavourful.
The pheasants were from my father-in-law’s pheasant pen (one of his latest hobbies) – very local in origin and almost free range (at least this one; the others recently obtained more freedom). These ring-necked pheasants, originally from Asia, are fascinating to watch. They are extremely good at hiding and blending in the grass.
Their meat consists of more dark meat in the leg, but white breasts. The taste is not quite like chicken. Not really like a turkey either (turkey has a distinct taste).
I took ideas from two different websites:
- 1/3 cup of red wine
- 3 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- garlic and pepper spice mix
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Italian spices – couldn’t find basil, this was the closest
- salt and peper
Mix the ingredients and marinade the pheasant for at least 30 minutes.
Liquid for roasting and basting
- 1/4 cup of red wine
- 1/4 cup of vegetable broth
You can put more or less depending on if more or less liquid is needed.
- onion – I cut one onion into 8 sections
- apples – I used crabapples from my in-laws yard and quartered them
I roasted the pheasant for 1.5 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and basted it at the 30-minute mark and the 1-hour mark.
Result: it turned out pretty well. The meat was moist. I did notice that the breasts were done at the 1-hour mark; however, the thighs were not. Later, I read more about other people’s experiences and maybe next time I cook pheasants, I would try to cut out the white meat when it’s done and leave the dark meat to cook longer. I might also try a different method of cooking (i.e. not roasting).
Have you cooked pheasants before? Do you have tips on how to cook them?