The pheasant truly is the “King of the Game Birds”. Ring-necked pheasant are native to Asia, but have been introduced to North America and other parts of the world. They have adapted to a variety of habitats and are one of the world’s most hunted game birds. When I was younger I trained English Pointers and English Setters to hunt game birds. I guided on a pheasant, chukar, and quail preserve in Utah for a few years, and literally hunted thousands of birds with those dogs. There is nothing quite as thrilling as having those dogs zig- zagging in front of you and then locking up and pointing the birds for you. If you have great dogs they will “honor” another dog on point by pointing directly behind the other dog. It is truly a great interaction between man and his “best friend”. The exploding flush of the bird out of cover, and that haunting cackle as they take off and fly really gets the adrenaline flowing. The ensuing swing of the shotgun, and dropping of the bird, is followed by that well trained dog retrieving the bird and bringing it back to you. Breast out the birds and try this unique recipe out.
- 8 Cups of water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 6 Boneless pheasant breasts
- ½ cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups of crushed corn flakes
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 8 ounces mushrooms finely chopped
- 1 cup (4 oz) shredded parmesan cheese
- ½ cup green onions finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
To make the brine, mix the brown sugar and salt into the water until dissolved. Add the pheasant breasts and refrigerate at least 12 hours. Remove the breasts from the brine and pat dry. One at a time place each breast on a cutting board and pound it until it flattens out. I use a gallon size zip-lock bag over the breast and pound it with a food mallet or a wine bottle works great too! Do not pound them so much that the meat breaks apart. It should slowly flatten out to about ¼ inch thick. They will almost double in size as they flatten. Dip the breasts in milk and bread one side of them with the crushed corn flakes and set aside.
The next step is a breeze in a food processor, but can be done by hand in a bowl if you do not have one. Mix the cream cheese, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, onions and spices together until well blended. Place a breast breaded side down in an ungreased baking dish. Spoon a layer of the cheese mixture over ½ of the breast and fold the other side over the mixture. You will now have a turnover with breading on the top and bottom and a cheese filling. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Bake for 35 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and a fresh vegetable. I have paired this dish with a Lone Madrone ”La Mezcla” available at www.wildgamewine.com. This Spanish influenced blend of Grenache Blanc and Albarino has an enticing nose of banana, green apple, citrus, and just a hint of pineapple. This wine refreshes the palate. The bright acidity compliments a pleasing mineral finish. There are other great wine pairings for pheasant under the upland bird section on the Wild Game Wine website. This recipe will also work well with small chicken breasts if you do not have pheasant available. Cook this one up, pour the wine, and enjoy. Cheers! Click here to download a printable recipe card.