For most wingshooters, when it comes to preparing their birds, there are typically two options: breasts and thighs, or the longer—but also more rewarding—process of plucking the entire fowl. However, a happy medium exists between these two choices, one that saves time but also offers the benefits of bone-in, skin-on pheasant.
An airline cut saves skin, resulting in a crispier exterior, while also leaving a drumette attached. While some chefs argue bone-in proteins don’t add extra flavor, I tend to disagree, since I believe innate flavors present in bones seep out into meat during cooking. As well, leaving the drumette attached allows for a more even cook and a juicer piece of pheasant once done grilling.
Makes four servings.
- 4 pheasant breasts, airline cut
- Light dusting of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of rosemary per breast
- 2 14-ounce cans of coconut milk, unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1-1/2 ounces of fresh ginger, finely minced
- 2 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/3 cup corn starch slurry
Okra vegetable medley
- 12 ounces fresh okra, sliced
- 1 small-medium onion, finely diced
- 1-1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 slices of lemon, juiced
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 2-3/4 cups cold water
- 1 cup fresh fennel, finely diced
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh green onions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pluck all feathers from breasts and drumette. Using a sharp boning, fillet or chef knife, cut through meat above second joint, above wing tip. Rotate wing tip until it separates from joint. Breast out each side of pheasant as you normally would, hugging the sternum with knife until breast is released. Work knife toward shoulder and twist wing to locate joint. Break wing joint from shoulder, employing knife against tendons if necessary. Repeat on other side.
Add coconut milk to medium sauce pan and heat on simmer. Add freshly minced garlic and ginger, plus red curry, salt and sugar. Stir thoroughly and reduce for minimum one hour. Before serving, add 1/3 cup of corn starch to a mixing bowl and sprinkle teaspoon or two of water overtop until corn starch turns to thin mix. Add this corn starch slurry to sauce and mix thoroughly to thicken sauce.
For Okra vegetable medley, wash fresh okra and slice into half-inch slices. Finely dice onion and red bell peppers. Coat a large sauté pan with butter and add onions. Sauté until soft then add okra and red bell peppers. Add salt, pepper, garlic and juiced lemon slices overtop. Cook vegetables on low until okra is soft but not mushy.
Add rice with cold water to large pot with teaspoon of salt and cover, heat on high until boiling then lower heat to very low. Sauté diced fennel in separate, small pan. Continue to steam rice on low with lid on until all water is absorbed, then add fennel, cranberries and sliced green onions.
Heat grill and lightly salt and pepper pheasant airline breasts. Place breasts skin-side down on hot grate, cover grill and rotate breasts 60 degrees once grill marks appear. Continue to keep lid closed and flip once second set of grill marks appear. Apply rosemary to each breast and cook thoroughly before serving. Please note: any bone-in protein requires slightly longer cooking times compared to boneless proteins.
Ladle sauce overtop each breast. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve alongside autumn rice and okra vegetable medley. Enjoy!
Former line cook and passionate denizen of the outdoors, Jack Hennessy is the author of the blog “Braising the Wild.” He lives with his wife in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @WildGameJack or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BraisingtheWild.
Photo credit: Dara Hennessy