When my neighbor generously shared the finds of his hunting trip, I was ecstatic. Pheasant? Cleaned and prepped pheasant breasts? YES, I WOULD LOVE SOME <in my most polite and rational voice>. The real question was - how was I going to cook it. BBQ the pheasants with smoke, of course!
How to keep lean meats, juicy
Pheasant breasts are lean, this is a game bird after all. So, others, often braise or cook a rich sauce to ensure the pheasant stays juicy. Considering I am smoking the pheasant, a dry heat is often not synonymous with juicy, lean meat. To keep lean meats, juicy, a few tips:
- Brine in a salt and sugar solution
- For best results, inject lean meat with brine
- Wrap in bacon for added protection from the heat and also allows the rendering of bacon to self-baste the lean meats
- Cook lean meats at lower heat and therefore, slower - if you cook lean meats too quickly, the muscle fibers will grab each too quickly and squeeze each other, meaning it squeezes out all the water meaning it squeezes out all the water and the meat will be dry.
Taste: Nice contrast - sweet rub, honey mustard to cut through the richness of bacon
Texture: Juicy, bacon is rendered where its tender enough to cut through bacon and pheasant breasts without issue
Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pheasant
1 cup water
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon sugar
10 pheasant breasts, chicken breasts can also be used
1 package of bacon (not thick cut)
Spice rub, (preferably a chicken spice rub, as it will be sweeter with less salt content), Blues Hog Sweet & Savory works well
Honey Mustard Sauce, I prefer Blues Hog Honey Mustard
- Allow pheasant to brine for at least 2 hours, to a maximum of 6 hours. For best results, inject breast with brine and pour any excess brine on top of pheasant.
- Warm up smoker to 350F (or 300F on Gateway Drum Smoker). Add fruit wood for smoke flavour.
- Drain excess brine.
- Season both sides of pheasant breasts with spice rub.
- Wrap 1-2 slices of bacon around each breast and pin with toothpick if necessary.
- Season bacon wrapped pheasant breasts with spice rub
- Place bacon wrapped pheasant breasts onto smoker. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Flip breasts on smoker and allow to cook for additional 6-8 minutes.
- Brush on honey mustard sauce onto backside of bacon wrapped breasts.
- Flip breasts on smoker and brush on honey mustard sauce on top side of bacon wrapped breasts.
- Remove from heat when internal temperature of breast is 140-145F and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes with a piece of tin foil loosely draped on top. Because pheasant is so lean, you don’t want to overcook, so it is pulled off the smoker to allow for carryover cooking.
- Serve with Blues Hog Honey Mustard for extra dipping.