Pheasant with Green Chiles


In my post entitled pheasant, I talked about how for years I’d disregarded the lovely pheasant as a gourmet protein, and decided it was finally time to give it the respect it deserves. I’ve had so many pheasants in my freezer over the years, but to me they were just fiddly, bony little birds to which I had no time to dedicate.

Pheasants not only require some butchering and de-boning skills, one must also be careful cooking them. Pheasant breasts, which I’m cooking today, are darker than chicken breasts, but not moist like chicken thighs or dark turkey meat. So I knew I had to be patient and attentive, which are not my strong suits.

The recipe that I immediately thought of using with the pheasant breasts is one from the Africa cookbook of the Foods of the World cookbook series. The recipe is from South Africa, and the name reflects the Dutch influence on South African cuisine.

Braised Pheasant Breasts with Green Chiles
or, Gesmoorde Hoender

4 pheasant breasts
Butter, about 4 tablespoons
2 shallots, diced
2 ounces diced green chiles from a can
1/4 cup chicken broth
Nutmeg, to taste

Season the pheasant breasts well with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a hot skillet and let it brown slightly.

Add 2 pheasant breasts and let them brown on both sides, for a minute on each side. We just browning, we’re not cooking through to the middle.
Place them on a platter, add the remaining butter and let it melt and brown slightly.

Add the remaining two pheasant breasts and brown them the same way, then place them on a platter. (Obviously I browned more than four pheasant breasts today, for this recipe I’m only using four.)
Reduce the heat under the skillet, and to the butter add the diced shallot.
Give them a stir and sauté them for a few minutes.

Then add the green chiles and chicken broth. Stir well.
Bring to a light boil, and cook for a few minutes.
When the liquid has reduced somewhat, add the pheasant breasts in one layer, and partially cover the skillet with a lid.

Braise the pheasant breasts for about 5 minutes. If you’re concerned about overcooking, use a thermometer. The inner temperature should not reach over 150 degrees, just like with chicken.
Alternatively, you could also pound the pheasant breasts like you would veal scaloppine, then you wouldn’t have to worry about uneven thickness.

Remove the cooked breasts from the broth, and place them on a serving plate. Using a spoon sieve, scoop out the shallots and chiles, and place them on top of the breasts.
Continue to reduce the liquid, then pour it over the pheasant. I also used a couple of tablespoons of the broth to sauté the spinach, that I used as a bed underneath the pheasant for serving purposes.

Sprinkle the pheasant with a little nutmeg, and add a little more salt and pepper, if desired.

verdict: I think I like pheasant! Next time I cook breasts, I will sous vide them first. The spinach was a great addition!

31 thoughts on “Pheasant with Green Chiles

  1. Funny that you mentioned sous-vide, when I started reading your post, was the first thought that popped in my mind, that sous-vide could work wonders with this type of meat

    I’ve never cooked pheasant, had it in restaurants a couple of times in France, and I must say I was not too wild about it – I think it’s a bit of an acquired taste, the texture seemed quite different from other types of poultry.

    had to smile at your remark of patience not being one of your qualities… not mine either! ;-)

    • I am not patient with certain things, and I’m probably getting worse as I get older. To me, a patient person is a cake decorator, or one of those crazy people who carves baby carriages out of watermelon. Sous vide is next. It’s such a fabulous technique on chicken and duck, too. This pheasant had no gamey taste, although that’s not offensive to me for some reason. I’m assuming that’s the taste you’re referring to.

  2. This looks great Mimi. I’ve rarely cooked pheasant. As you say it needs careful attention. It’s delicious if cooked well – like yours! – but can easily be too dry. And I’m never too keen on having to worry about finding little pellets in it if it’s been shot!

    • And especially because I eat with gusto (just ask Stephane in France!) I really chomped down on that buck shot. It really made my ears ring. Not fun at all.

    • Hahahaha! Years ago, my husband had a broken molar, and I always wondered if it was from one of those first attempts I made at cooking the pheasant… Yes, it’s a firm meat, but it was moist. I was very vigilant when I was braising them!

  3. Beautifully pictured atop the bold green spinach. I would kill to taste these, I’m so curious. They look gorgeously seasoned and I bet the addition of the chiles and nutmeg really complimented the flavour of the bird. Unfortunately, only three more days of hunting season here and the weather will probably prevent us getting out. Maybe my in-laws have one in their freezer though. :)

  4. This looks fab. I wouldn’t expect anything less than green chilis from you :) I’m currently working on my deboning skills with hens. We’ll see how that goes.

  5. I can’t remember the last time I had pheasant but this is giving me a craving. It looks like you really nailed the cooking time because it certainly appears moist in these photos. I’m not sure that I would have your patience and I’m just trying to picture what would happen if I tried to carve a watermelon. Basic melon balls with a scoop is a challenge for me so I’m thinking anything more complex could get messy.

  6. Reblogged this on A Single Serving and commented:
    I’ve done my usual scrounge through the post-holiday leftover at the grocery store, as usual, come home with some goodies. My local Harris Teeter had pheasants on sale so I’m looking for inspiration. I have whole pheasant rather than just the breasts, but reading this provided some inspiration as a place to start.

Leave a Reply. I love 'em!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.