When John was a kid, his dad would take him out bird hunting. With such fond memories of the past, the two of them recently decided to head out again for the first time in over a decade.
You may be familiar with the concept of a stocked lake for trout, where the government grows trout in hatcheries and then deposits them in a designated lake for people to go out and catch. I have been to stocked ponds before, and it’s nice to be able to fish for trout close to home.
What I didn’t realize, is that the same thing is done with pheasants. Outside of Camrose, pheasants farmed all the way out in Ohio are brought over to a designated area of land where local hunters make their rounds.
John and his dad headed out to the hunting area, and had a very successful trip, shooting four pheasants. John got a bullet in all of them, with help from his dad for one or two. However, John tells me that his dad is the king when it comes to bird hunting, including a legendary tale where his dad hit 3 birds with 1 shot – all head shots too! For this trip, he was being a good dad, allowing his son to take the money shots.
We were lucky as John brought two pheasants home to eat!
Pheasants are spectacular birds as far as wild game goes, and I was pleased to get a close up view of all of the colours when John brought them home to clean.
When it comes to bird hunting, head shots are very desirable as it limits the pellets in the body, and thus limits pellets that have to be removed (along with edible meat.) John had hit one square in the head, and we were lucky enough to have pheasant untouched by pellets.
Another nice thing about these pheasants is that they were farmed, making them larger and more tender then their wild counterparts. Usually, the way to go (or so I have been told) is to make a pheasant stew, which tenderizes the meat and conceals the gamey taste. However, because we had such plump and tender pheasants, John and I decided to roast it.
So John went to work, chopping vegetables and seasoning the pheasant with fresh thyme and sage. He roasted the pheasant to glorious perfection, and two of us happily devoured the whole thing in one sitting!
So this week’s recipe is John’s roasted pheasant recipe. If you aren’t fortunate enough to find a pheasant of your own, the recipe would be great with a Cornish hen, about the same size as a pheasant. John also made the most KILLER pheasant gravy that we enjoyed the next day with our fried chicken! I’ve included his gravy directions as well.
– The nice thing about the pheasant is it cooks much quicker than a then its larger cousin the chicken. Be sure to keep an eye on it – John cooked his for an hour, but you may need more or less time depending on the size of your bird.
– Go crazy with the herbs – it’s hard to use too much!
– John provided you his basic gravy recipe, but try adding whatever you like – garlic powder, onion powder, a hint of soy sauce, wine, whatever floats your gravy boat that day!
– To serve, John and I like to shred the white meat and dip it into the drippings in the bottom of the pan!
The classic seasoning for any kind of poultry.
So in case you are wondering, the dog in the picture with John and his dad was borrowed from a friend that they ran into while hunting. Although the dog boasted the hunting outfit, turns out the poor thing was completely useless at bird retrieval. Oh well, still makes for a good pic!
Thanks to John for not only going out and getting a pheasant for dinner, but cleaning it, preparing it and cooking it! It’s nice to be spoiled!
Click here to view the printable Word version of recipe:
Herb Roasted Pheasant and Gravy
Herb Roasted Pheasant
1 pheasant (substitute for Cornish hen)
3 shallots, coarsely chopped (or 1 onion)
2 stalks celery
1 sweet potato
Salt and pepper
Grape seed oil (or any oil you choose)
4 slices of bacon (optional)
- Pre-heat oven 400
- Chop all vegetables into chunks. Cut garlic cloves in half. Place all vegetables on bottom of roasting pan. Drizzle vegetables with oil and mix.
- Chop herbs finely and have them ready.
- Wash and oil pheasant.
- Place pheasant in the center of roasting pan, ensuring the pheasant touches the bottom of the pan.
- Salt and pepper the bird and vegetables.
- Rub pheasant with generous amount of sage and thyme. Sprinkle vegetables with remaining herbs.
- Place bacon on top of pheasant.
- Uncovered, place roasting pan in oven. Cook 15 minutes until bacon is cooked.
- Remove bacon from top of bird, and put in with the vegetables.
- Cover and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until bird is done.
Pheasant or Hen Gravy
Drippings from your roasted pheasant or chicken
Vegetta (vegetable bouillon)
Put drippings in pot. Add water to thin out fats, until the desired volume of gravy is reached.
Add cracked pepper, and vegetta to taste. Thicken with flour.
To thicken, dissolve flour in water before adding to the gravy.