When my friend came by the other day with some fresh pheasants, I thought why not give them a good smoke and have them for dinner that night? The smaller cousin of the chicken, pheasants can be absolutely delicious when smoked the right way. While some people might hang their pheasants for a few days to tenderize them and add flavor, I like mine fresh.
Game meat can come out tough and dry if you don’t take precautions. The bacon and pre-soaked plank in this recipe ensure that your pheasant breasts are juicy and flavorful. Don’t fret if you don’t have a cooking plank. The bacon does most of the work here. This recipe incorporates fresh pheasant breast, bacon, cherry wood chips, and orange zest to obtain a complex, well-smoked flavor.
Step 1 – Brine the Breasts
Put your tablespoon of salt into about a pint of water and stir until you have dissolved it. You should have no problem dissolving the salt in cold water, but if you have trouble then warming the water can help. Make sure the brine is cold before you place your pheasant breasts in the brine let sit for 4-6 hours.
Step 2 – Season and Put into the Smoker
After 4-6 hours, take the pheasant breasts out and season them with your pepper and the orange zest and juice. Then wrap the breasts in bacon, covering most of the surface. Remember that since you’ve already soaked them in brine, there is no need for additional salt. Put these into the refrigerator while your grill or smoker heats up.
You want to heat your grill/smoker up to around 250ºF. Once it’s there, put your pheasant breasts on the plank and put them in.
Step 3 – Prepare the Rice
Cook your rice according to the instructions on the package. While you’re doing that, grab a large pan and melt the butter with medium heat. Once it’s sizzling, add your sliced mushrooms and cook them until you see some caramelization. This should happen within 15 to 20 minutes. Remember to stir often so that everything cooks evenly.
After your rice is cooked, toss in the mushrooms and season according to your preferences.
Step 4 – Add the Wood Chips
The pheasant breasts will take around one hour to fully cook. At the 45-minute mark, toss the wood chips into your coals to get an aromatic hint of cherry wood. I love this technique. It’s easy to do and gives it that extra oomph.
Step 5 – Serve
After the breasts are done, take them out of the smoker and let them rest for 15 to 20 minutes. When you’re ready to serve, put the rice down on the plates and the breasts on top, and dinner is ready!
I love this recipe because it is a full and flavorful meal that makes a delicious dinner. You can even use the leftover rice, mushrooms and pheasant breasts to make pot pies, but that’s another story.
If you’re not keen on rice, or you want to make a quick snack rather than a full meal, then just smoke the pheasant breasts and leave out the rest. I’ve done that before, too. Either way, I hope you enjoy the juicy flavors! Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think.