Dryness is a criticism oft levelled at pheasant and late-season birds can pose a problem for even the most experienced game cook. Follow The Field's guide to the best way to cook pheasant breasts
Nothing is more disappointing than dry pheasant, though it’s a trap even experienced game cooks can fall in to with late-season birds. Follow The Field’s guide to the best way to cook pheasant breasts to ensure a succulent, scrumptious supper every time.
Pheasant is a super substitue for chicken, though it is easier to dry out. This is because pheasants live a real, free-range life and, by the end of the season, have flown a fair bit and exercised their flying muscles (the breasts). The only way to ensure a great result is to not overcook it. And for more inspiration on how pheasant can replace chicken in your favourite recipes, follow the top 10 best pheasant recipes.
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THE BEST WAY TO COOK PHEASANT BREASTS
This is more about the cooking of the meat than the actual recipe, and you can serve it with any sauce you like. Mainly, you will be amazed about the juiciness of the meat and how easy this is, once you get your head around it. Essentially you need to know that meat changes from raw to cooked by about 65°C (149°F), so if the cooking temperature never exceeds that point, and we seal in the moisture, then (a) we cannot overcook it and (b) it will be perfect. Try it.
- 4 undamaged pheasant breasts (skin on)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper
- 1 large ziplock cooking bag
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 drinking straw
- 100g (31⁄2oz) butter (for later)
- Sea salt (for later)
Marinade the breasts in the oil and pepper and slide them into the bag. Add the sprig of rosemary and lay the bag flat. Zip it almost shut, and poke the straw into one corner.
Suck out the air, then zip it completely shut. Pop the bag on a roasting tray and put it in the oven at 65°C (149°F) or a pan of water at the same temperature; use a thermometer. Leave it for an hour (more does not matter – it won’t overcook) then remove. The meat should feel firm with no wobbliness. If there is, put it back in the oven.
When done, remove from the bag and pat dry on kitchen paper. Then heat the butter in a non-stick pan. When the butter foams, pop the breasts in skin-side down, then sprinkle over the salt. Cook for one minute, continually spooning butter over. They are ready when golden.