Pheasant is popular as hunting meat. If you hunt often, most likely you will encounter a pheasant or two to cook at home. In a restaurant, however, pheasant is not so famously cooked. So if you’ve never had pheasant before, it’s normal to wonder what does pheasant taste like.
By the end of this article, you will not only know what pheasant tastes but how different cooking methods alter its delicious flavor and texture. Does it taste like chicken or turkey? And what’s the best way to cook pheasant to bring out its natural, most appetizing taste?
What Does Pheasant Taste Like, Really?
Pheasant is low in natural fat and moisture. This means it will taste dry when overcooked. Not like chicken or turkey that takes long to tenderize and longer to completely dry its meat.
Pheasant is, on its own, a blend of how chicken and turkey taste. But it comes the closest to the flavor of chicken than it does turkey. It’s smoky with a discernible and aromatic scent.
When you cook the turkey at home, the smell of the turkey will spread out and away from the kitchen to the rest of your house. Chicken may not have such a strong and aromatic scent.
So simply said, pheasant tastes like chicken but smells like turkey. It’s juicy when cooked perfectly and the smoky, distinctive flavor is what most people love about cooked and eating pheasant.
Types of Pheasant Meat
Some people say that farm-raised pheasants taste different than wild pheasants. Because of what pheasants eat when they are farm-bred and farm-fed and what pheasants eat in the wild, the texture and flavor of cooked pheasant differ.
This also affects the way the meat smells during and after cooking. You’ll find that wild pheasants smell stronger and have a more distinctive flavor than farm-raised pheasants. They are more sweet and aromatic than chicken or turkey as well.
Based on what pheasants eat on a farm and their activity levels, farm-raised pheasants have a softer texture and mild flavor and smell. They are not as lean as wild pheasant which means their meat might still be appetizing even if you accidentally overcook it.
This doesn’t apply to wild pheasants.
How to Cook Pheasant?
While Pheasant is nutritious and healthy meat, it contains high proteins and less fat. But as with any meat, eating a lot of it can lead to an unhealthy diet.
So when you do cook pheasant in your kitchen, keep it versatile every time as it is a lean and easy-to-make dish.
Here’s how to cook Pheasant for the best possible flavor…
Anybody who has ever eaten a pheasant will tell you that the best way to pheasant is by slow-roasting the meat to extract the best possible flavor.
You can slow-roast pheasant in two ways. In the oven at 330 to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Or you can slow-roast pheasant on a roasting pan on low to medium heat for 45 to 60 minutes.
But you’re missing a huge step that comes before roasting the pheasant meat. You guess it right – it’s the marination.
2. Slow Cooking
Another great way to cook pheasant is slow-cooking it. A pheasant takes way longer to cook in a slow cooker than in the oven or in a pan.
Adding chicken stock while cooking pheasant in a slow cooker is a good way to avoid drying up the meat. Soy sauce, sherry, vegetable stock. These are all delicious ingredients to add to pheasant to keep the meat from overcooking – especially in a slow cooker.
The average time of slow cooking a pheasant is about 8 to 10 hours. Keep the lid covered and the setting on the lowest heat.
Marinating the Pheasant
Herbs and spices do a great job of adding flavor and texture to pheasant during marinating. You can also do things simply by marinating pheasant with some salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme, onions, and bay leaves.
The recipe of marinating pheasant is not as important as the duration of marinating. The average time for marinating (for the best possible results) is 6 to 12 hours.
The longer the marinating period, the juicier the results.
You can marinate the pheasant with or without its skin. Keeping the skin will leave to a more crispy flavor. Keep the pheasant covered while marinating to avoid excess air entering. Refrigerating the meat until cooking is necessary.
If you keep the pheasant out at room temperature for 6 to 12 hours, it will spoil.
How to Serve/Plate a Pheasant?
Now that you’ve cooked pheasant, how do you “carve” it? Plating cooked pheasant is done in the same manner as serving chicken or turkey.
Use a sharp carving knife and slice from the meaty center toward the base of the plate. A perfectly cooked pheasant will tear apart as soon as you slice the knife downwards along the middle.
Then you can detach smaller parts such as the legs and thighs easily.
A dish like slow-roasted pheasant is best served with grilled vegetables, some light but mouthwatering, bittersweet wine, and mashed potatoes!
Wrapping It Up
What do you think about cooking pheasant at home? Now that you know what they taste like (chicken) and what they smell like (turkey). You can now find new ways of cooking pheasant with different marinates at home.
When cooked properly, pheasant can make a versatile and appetizing meal. It contains plenty of good nutrition like proteins. And they do have some health benefits too with potassium, iron, and B vitamins. Best of all, they are seriously low in fat!
If you have some more tips on cooking pheasant and trying out new recipes, let us know your thoughts! Pheasants, farm-raised or wild, can be quite a treat if you’re looking for new recipes.