|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
Eastern Europeans are fond of game meat -- venison, bison, boar, elk, pigeons (squab) and other wild poultry like pheasant. Pheasant hunting was not only expected of the men in my family, it was demanded by the women who used the birds' beautiful feathers to make some pretty snazzy hats. I never liked the gamey taste of wild pheasant. But farm-raised pheasant is another bird entirely.
Pheasant can be overcooked in the wink of an eye. Some people get around this by cutting the bird into pieces, and giving the dark meat a headstart in the oven so the breast meat doesn't become dry. If you leave the bird whole, you can lay strips of bacon or salt pork over the breast meat while it is roasting to alleviate some of the problem. But most farm-raised pheasants have a substantial amount of fat in the neck skin, and added fat makes for pretty greasy drippings. I prefer to marinate my whole bird for 30 minutes. The oil from the marinade helps to keep the breast succulent and moist. As with most poultry, pheasant benefits from an accompaniment of or some other type of chutney like pickled raisins when serving.
Pheasants are small birds, so one will probably serve only two hungry people. Plan accordingly.
Here is a larger photo of Roast Pheasant.
- For the Marinade:
- 1/3 cup wine (dry red or white wine or plain water)
- 3 tablespoons vinegar (red-wine or balsamic)
- 2 tablespoons shallots (minced)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil (chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
- 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram (chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- For the Pheasant:
- 1 whole pheasant (farm-raised, 2- to 3-pounds, washed and patted dry)
- Optional: salt
- 1 small onion (peeled and cut in half)
In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine wine or water, vinegar of choice, shallots, olive oil, sugar, garlic, dry mustard, oregano, basil, marjoram, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper until well mixed.
Sprinkle salt in the inside cavity of the pheasant, if desired. Place whole bird in marinade, moving it around so the marinade reaches all parts of the bird. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove pheasant from marinade, but do not rinse off. Place bird in a lidded roasting pan that is just slightly bigger than the bird. Place bird, breast-side up in the roasting pan. Place the halved onion in the cavity of the bird. Cover and roast for 30 minutes. Remove lid, baste bird and let it continue to roast without the lid so it will brown until the thighs move easily and the juices run clear.