Try a new recipe this Thanksgiving--roast a pheasant instead of a turkey.
Thinking of being a bit conservative with your Thanksgiving this year? Maybe there are only a few eaters. Maybe, like me, you aren't battling the holiday crowds and feasting with all of your extended family. Maybe you are just having a quiet Thanksgiving with your family and don't want to go overboard this year.
Ditch the turkey and go with the ditch chicken instead. Game birds are smaller than a 15-pound turkey and as good as leftovers are, maybe you just need a few day's worth rather than a week and a half. If you do go out and harvest a pheasant yourself, which of course we suggest, make sure you brine it for at least eight hours before you cook.
I recently got Hank Shaw's cookbook, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, and he has a great roast pheasant recipe, which conveniently feeds two. This is what I am making this Thanksgiving, with a few minor tweaks.
Glazed Roast Pheasant
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4 cups water
- 1 pheasant
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion (quartered) and
- 2 or 3 medium potatoes
Mix the salt and water together and whisk to help dissolve the salt. Pour it over the pheasant and leave in fridge for 4-6 hours. Take it out of the brine and either prepare to cook, or leave uncovered in the fridge overnight for crispier skin.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Dust the pheasant with the red pepper and place in roasting pan over onions and potatoes.
Roast the pheasant for 18 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and roast for another 20 minutes.
Turn the bird breast side up and baste with the syrup. Roast for another 20-30 minutes. Watch the glaze and take it out if it starts to burn. There is going to be some burning at the edges of the legs and wings but that is okay.
The thigh should be at 160 degrees when you stab it with a meat thermometer. Leave it out to rest and cool for 10-15 in a foil tent.
Grind some black pepper over the bird before serving with the potatoes, onions and your other Thanksgiving sides.
Join me in creating this conservative Thanksgiving meal this year!