"Hug a Hunter" is my new bumper sticker since, if it were not for hunters, I wouldn't have 3 pounds of ground venison and a pheasant in the freezer. More than once this season my hunting buddies have been gracious enough to lighten the load of their freezers and send their excess spoils my way.
My friend, Steve, goes to the Dakotas to hunt and on his latest trip brought back pheasant. I have never had pheasant, so Steve knowing my grilling activities was quick to hook me up. He was also great to hook me up with some beer, but that is a different story!
In order to prove the species of the kill, the law requires the head to be attached to the body to prove identification...which, makes for a rather interesting prep.
The pheasant is quite small, maybe a couple pounds. Add in the head and not only do you have a good look at the anatomical look at the bird, you have some great dead pheasant theater. Heh, it's not every day I have a head attached to my meal. I'm going to take advantage of it.
Pheasant is a very lean meat and there really is not a lot too it, as seen by this less than flattering pose:
After doing some review of how to prepare, I found because of the meat it was best to either marinade or lard. Since I had no time to marinade, I went with low tech larding, ie: the bacon wrap:
With the pheasant wrapped in bacon and seasoned in salt, pepper & paprika, I mounted it on the spit and went out to prep the grill.
Which, brings me to the ice. There is a storm brewing and it's been sleety icy nasty all day. I had to chip the ice off the grill cover in order to get it removed. Crazy, but not stupid. The stupid is me.
Anyway, after the grill fired up and melted the ice. It was pheasant time.
Going back to the lean nature of the pheasant meat, I opted to baste the bird with butter in an effort to add even more moisture and fat.
Yes, it is wrapped in bacon, but really, can you ever have enough fat?
I basted about every 10 minutes using a half stick of butter.
The pheasant spun and cooked until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees, about 45 minutes. It was still a little dry, but wow, the flavor was great. It had poultry like qualities, but a much deeper taste. It is kind of hard to describe, so I will summarize it as: great.
I peeled back the bacon and added it to some rice I prepped to go with it. Much like the "head attached to pheasant" is required by law, so is "I shall not waste bacon".
It was a great experience and a really good meal on a crappy night. As the weather moves in, I hope the power stays on. (Update: How wrong I was!)