The ring-necked pheasant is a popular game bird across North America. If their cackling flush doesn’t get you excited, the succulent white flesh they offer to the table certainly will. There are liberal seasons and extra hunting opportunities on raise-and-release sites to keep you stocked with birds year-round.
Pheasants are a wonderful table bird, but like most wildfowl, tend to cook and dry out fast. One of the best ways to beat dry meat is to leave the skin and fat reserves on the bird when cooking. It means having to pluck your birds, but it is worth the extra effort in flavor and moistness. Orange marmalade is made from Seville oranges, which tend to be bitter. The preserves have some sugar to counter the bitterness, and the unique flavors work well with white-fleshed birds. Birds are best when prepped in a marinade, and more orange with tart, acidic tendencies work great when blended with natural honey and spice.
Pheasants are easy to split down the backbone with a pair of game sheers to present them spatchcock. It helps ensure even cooking for legs, thighs and breasts. You can cook whole, round birds as well.
Marinade Ingredients (per bird)
• 1 cup orange juice
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1. Combine all ingredients in a sealable bag and mix well.
2. Place pheasant in the marinade and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.
• ¾ cup orange juice
• ¼ cup orange marmalade
• 1 ½ tablespoon honey
• 1 tablespoon sriracha hot chili sauce
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne (or Bearded Butcher Hot Blend Seasoning)
*If you are heat sensitive leave out the cayenne
1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes till well blended and thickening.
1. Remove pheasant from marinade and let excess drip away.
2. Place spatchcocked pheasant ribs down on the grill. A Camp Chef SmokePro DLX offers the options to smoke and grill. With the DLX, put the pheasant on Hi Smoke for 20 minutes to add color and flavor. The grilling knob can be pulled out on the SmokePro, and the pheasant turned skin side down to grill at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker, place the pheasant skin-side down on a hot barbecue grill and sear at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Place half of the glaze in a foil baking pan.
4. Place seared pheasant ribs down in the baking pan, on top of the glaze.
5. Pour remainder of glaze over the pheasant and cover the pan with foil to ensure no moisture escapes. Cook for 45 minutes on the grill at 250 degrees. The pheasant will be cooked through, but stay extremely moist.
6. Serve hot in generous slices, or in halves.
7. Pour extra glaze in a gravy boat to drizzle over sliced pheasant.