Pheasant, Sous Vide


In January of 2015, I wrote a post entitled pheasant, in which I wrote about my shock in discovering that the man I married was a hunter. Since we only knew each other 3 months before getting married, there just wasn’t time to discuss such an important thing.

Read the post if you want a laugh. Because of my limited but scarring experience with drunk holiday hunters, my overall impression wasn’t positive. But I learned, slowly, that not all hunters are crazy fools, and that it is a sport to be respected.

I re-read the post myself, because I remember the emotional phase well – me trying to reconcile the fact that my husband owned a shotgun and shot living birds – him trying to get over me being nuts. Let’s just say that over the years I’ve relaxed a bit.

So it was just a couple years ago that I actually gave pheasant a shot, no pun intended. I made a recipe called Pheasant with Green Chiles that I’d made before with chicken breasts.

When I made the pheasant with green chiles, I wrote that the next time I’d sous vide the pheasant breasts. If the sous vide process would do the same for pheasant as it does for chicken breasts, then the pheasant would be moist and tender. So that’s what I decided to do, although I dragged my feet for a while, reluctantly accepting 4 whole pheasant breasts after a recent hunting expedition.

I cleaned the pheasants, because there are always remnant feathers, and dried them on paper towels. I seasoned the breasts with salt, pepper, and a little thyme.

I put the whole breasts in a vacuum sealable bag. I added 4 tablespoons of butter, a sprig of fresh sage, and vacuum sealed the bag carefully.

I set my sous vide at 135 degrees Farenheit, and the pheasants were in for 3 hours.

After cooking I put the bag immediately in the refrigerator. You can also use an ice bath to cool off the meat quickly.

When you are close to serving the pheasant breasts, remove the bag from the refrigerator. Drain the pheasants if you want to save the jus.

Cut the breasts from the rib bones and lay them out. Dab with paper towels to remove any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

In a skillet over high heat, brown the breasts in a little oil, just for about 30 seconds per side.

For something different, I decided to use the pheasant in a composed salad.

Along with lettuce, I added red cabbage, tomatoes, barley, and feta cheese.

The dressing was lemon pesto, which went really well with the pheasant.

The pheasant cooked this way is superb. As expected, the meat was tender, moist, and flavorful.

I cooked the pheasant on the day our time sprung forward, and so because I used two different clocks, only one of which had the proper time on it, the breasts were actually in the sous vide 30 minutes longer than planned. Fortunately that had no difference on the outcome!

Sous vide is the only way I’ll cook pheasant in the future. And I won’t be so hesitant to have my husband bring them home!

42 thoughts on “Pheasant, Sous Vide

  1. Cannot beat sous vide for this type of protein! When I made duck confit, I was blown away by the results, and so much ‘cleaner’ to prepare

    I doubt I’ll ever be around pheasant, though – only special ordering it

  2. I think you just convinced me to learn more about sous vide and try it . I enjoyed reading your pheasant post and this post. My brother is a hunter and I love him dearly.

    • Well I love my husband but I definitely wasn’t thrilled about him being a hunter. Although I do fish, so it really makes little sense. I am scared of guns but not fishing poles, I guess!

  3. Interesting! I live in the country where friends often turn up with a couple of rabbits or a brace of pheasants, so I cook them often. I don’t have a sous vide machine so can’t try your lovely recipe as-is … which of course would prevent them drying out as they’re prone to do. The trouble with pheasant is that one doesn’t always know how old it is … so pan frying isn’t always an option. Guess I’ll have to stick with pies, tagines and terrines! Lx

  4. Oh how lucky you are to get pheasant from your husband! I haven’t had pheasant in probably 25 years now. Sous vide looks like the perfect way to cook it, and the salad presentation is lovely and tasty-looking too.

      • Sous vide is really odd. Time and temperature depends on the type of flesh, like how muscley it is or not, and then the resulting rareness. Thickness matters, but oddly enough, volume doesn’t. Flank steak and brisket cook for 48 hours!

  5. This looks gorgeous. I used to hunt and fish with my dad so it never bothered me but living in the French countryside my main concern is getting shot or worse, my dogs! Pheasant is one of my favourites but it can be tricky to cook and keep it moist. This sounds ideal and looks amazing. Do you reckon I could secretly order a sous-vide?!

  6. I was just discussing pheasant with a colleague (who is a hunter) and we were both thinking that sous vide would be beneficial to pheasant. Thanks for the confirmation, Mimi! I will have to go back and read your old post!

    • From here on out I think it’s the only way. I’ll prepare pheasant. It just turns the pheasant into such a pleasant meat! Would probably work wonders on venison as well, although maybe not the tenderloin. I leave tenderloins alone!

  7. What a story! I imagine my feelings would be the same as I’m pretty scared of shotguns and love our fine feathered friends. I must say I’ve enjoyed pheasants though, the few times that I’ve tasted it. The recipe sounds just lovely!

  8. My cousin is a a hunter and from time to time we get to receive game for cooking! I have tried pheasants and I have posted a recipe for them. They are really delicious! Yours look perfect and I am keeping the recipe to try it the next time I get a present from the cousin!

  9. I really need to get a sous vide machine — it’s the perfect technique for a dish like this. I don’t hunt, but do like pheasant. Lucky for me it’s easy enough to get the farmed pheasant (although it’s usually a special order from the butcher). Good recipe — thanks.

  10. I’ve only had pheasant in restaurants in Europe but I do love it. Perhaps I’ll order some and sous vide it with your recipe…it sounds good.

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