Pheasants are typically smaller birds (about 2 to 3 pounds), which make them perfect for a special dinner for two. Depending on the size and origin of your pheasant, you should take the following into consideration:
Farm-raised pheasant: mild delicate flavor, much like chicken. May have a thin layer of fat just under the skin, so you may be able to roast in almost the same manner as you would a small chicken.
Wild pheasant: richer, gamier flavor. Leaner, so there may be little to no fat. If your pheasant was wild caught, I recommend brining or barding (covering the bird with strips of bacon or pork fat) before roasting to help prevent drying out. You may also want to consider cooking it as a braise, where the low, moist heat of the casserole renders the meat more tender and prevents the bird from drying out (this is an especially good cooking method for larger, older birds that may be a bit on the tough side).
The following is a simple recipe for roast pheasant that requires little effort but looks spectacular on the plate. As shown in the photo, I served my roast pheasant atop wild rice with mushrooms, accompanied by sauce chasseur and wilted chard.
- 1 young pheasant (2 to 3 pounds)
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Truss and bard the bird, if desired. Place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan, set the pan in the oven, and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Roast until the juices from the thigh run clear when pierced (estimated roasting time is between 25-30 minutes per pound for a stuffed pheasant, and 20-25 minutes per pound if unstuffed).
Remove the trussing strings and barding fat, if using, and carve the pheasant into serving pieces.
last updated August 17, 2023