Roasted Pheasant

Mmmmm….. I am mightily impressed.

A year and some ago, The Hubbs & I acquired a couple of freshly killed pheasant from our friends J & R. At that time, he was muchly into the hunting of animals. He may still be, but I think they’re more into acquiring locally raised meat at this point. The first time I made pheasant, I did it in the crockpot and braised it for a good long time. It was flavourful, but the meat was still kind of stringy and dry.

Last night I took our last frozen pheasant and roasted it in my little convection oven. Actually, backtrack to last week, I pulled the pheasant out of the deep freeze to thaw with the intention of making the roast pheasant on Wednesday. That didn’t happen because we ended up at Mom & Dad’s for Chinese New Year. It didn’t happen on Thursday because I had a date with a gf to go shopping at T&T. And neither did it happen on Friday, because we had a dinner date with D & K at Edelweiss.

So in the end, I finally got around to cooking my poor neglected pheasant last night. Sometime last week, I can’t even remember what day it was now, after the bird had completely thawed, I rinsed it well inside and out and then put it into a big ziplock bag and covered it with an ice cold brine mixture. I put the ziplock bag into a bowl and then chucked it back into the fridge for about 8-9 hours. After the allotted time had elapsed, I drained all the brine, zipped the bird back up into the bag and left it in its bowl in the fridge until I was ready to cook it.

Fast forward to Sunday night: I pulled the pheasant out of the fridge a good 3-4 hours before I was wanting to roast it so it could come up to room temperature. Drained the pheasant of any remaining briney liquid, gave it a good once over rinse again, then patted it dry.

In the meantime, I chopped up one onion, half a large zucchini, half a large eggplant, one yellow pepper and four cocktail tomatoes. I tossed all the veggies in some olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, some dried thyme and rosemary. Put all the veggies into my now-favourite convection oven roasting pan and tossed it into the oven during the 450F preheat cycle and left the veggies in there for 15 minutes on their own.

While the oven was coming up to temperature, I got some room temperature butter and mixed it up with some thyme, rosemary, and lemon pepper and tucked it under the skin. Before popping it into the oven, I basted the skin with some olive oil.

When the fifteen minutes were up for the veggies, I carefully snuggled the now-basted and generously buttered bird into the veggies and put it back into the oven for 15 minutes. Once the fifteen minutes were over, I turned the temperature down to 325F and left it to continue roasting for another 30 minutes. After the thirty minutes, I left the pheasant in the oven to keep warm/rest until we were ready to eat, which was probably another 10-15 minutes after the timer had originally gone off.

All in all, it was an EXCELLENT method of cooking pheasant. The Hubbs was really surprised at how good it tasted, and so was I. I was worried that perhaps it might be overcooked, having left it in the oven for so long afterwards, but I think the brining definitely helps to save the meat in this case, since there really isn’t all that much fat to be had on a pheasant. We each had a breast for dinner last night along with all the veggies, plus rice and the two remaining thighs+drums will be eaten tonight for dinner.

I had considered taking pictures, but I’ve been feeling so crummy again that I just wanted to eat and go back to bed.

Brined Roasted Pheasant

4 cups water
1/4 cup salt
5 crushed bay leaves
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp crushed juniper

1 pheasant
lemon pepper
olive oil

Bring all the brine ingredients to a boil, then cover and let cool to room temperature.
When it cools, submerge your pheasant in the brine, adding extra cold water if it needs more to be completely covered.
Keep it in the fridge for 8 hours. You can go over or under an hour or two.

After the soak, drain the pheasant of its brine and dry him off.
Bring the bird to room temperature, at least a few hours before ready to cook.
Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of preheating, and up to a half-hour.
While preheating the oven, mix the butter with thyme, rosemary and lemon pepper. Gently put butter under the breast skin of the bird.
Oil the bird outside of the bird.
Stuff the bird with a piece of onion or apple and a few fresh herbs. DO NOT PACK THE CAVITY!
Roast the pheasant for 15 minutes at 450F.
Lower the temperature to 325F and roast for another 25-35 minutes.
The internal temperature to be about 155F and for the bird’s juices to run pretty clear. A little pink in the juice — and in the bird — is OK.
Remove the pheasant, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.


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