Upland Pheasant is one of the finest table fairs either domestic or wild. I grew up hunting pheasants on the western plains of Kansas and the pheasant hunt was more of a rite of passage and a tradition than just a pastime or hobby. When the north wind blows from a November sky my thoughts often turn to the sight and sound of a flushing rooster pheasant, if only in my mind.
The holiday season is in full force and folks are meeting and sharing and eating together. Try out this recipe that I first learned to make from my great grandmother as one of our family traditions. This is a stomach and heart warming dish to share the bounty of a hunt with friends and family.
Modern Wild Man Creamed Pheasant
boneless skinless breast from two pheasant
2 C all purpose flour
1 T Old Bay seasoning
2 t Kosher Salt
Several grinds fresh black pepper
2 t Garlic Powder
2 t Onion Powder
1 gallon zip top bag
1 Pint heavy cream
The pheasant breast should be cleaned and trimmed of any connective tissue, feathers or skin. Cut tenders about 3/8″ thick long ways and across the grain. Pat the cut pheasant strips dry on all sides with a clean paper towel or two.
Add the flour, Old Bay, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper into the zip top bag and mix well.
In a heavy dutch or deep cast iron skillet pour in the canola oil and turn on the heat to medium or medium high. I like to use a thermometer and bring the oil up to around 350 – 360 degrees.
When the oil is hot and ready to go, drop the cut pheasant strips into the zip top bag with the seasoned flour for a good shake, rub and shake again. Add the coated pheasant pieces to the hot oil and be careful not to get splattered. Don’t overcrowd the pan, it may take two or three pan fulls to get all the pheasant pieces done.
Use a pair of tongs or a fry spider to gently turn the pheasant pieces as they brown. If the heat stays right around the 350 mark the tenders will be done to perfection when they are golden brown on all sides.
As the pheasant strips brown move them out of the hot oil and onto a paper towel or screen rack to drain the excess oil. Move new pieces into the skillet until all the pheasant is cooked golden and draining on a paper towel.
Next, either pour off the leftover oil you fried your pheasant in, or get a new heavy pan out. On low heat line the pan with all the browned pheasant pieces you just finished frying. You might have to work to squeeze them all in, but try and make them fit. Finally, pour over all the warm pieces of breaded and fried pheasant the heavy cream. Try and get a good coating on all the pheasant and let it run all around the bottom of the pan.
Slowly cook the pheasant in heavy cream over low / medium low heat until it warms through and thickens to your liking. Salt and pepper the finished skillet to your liking.
Creamed pheasant is a hearty comforting dish that makes its own gravy to pour over mashed potatoes. Serve with a fresh garden salad, a side of mashed potatoes, green beans or broccoli and you’ve got a meal to write home about!