Recipes & Cooking  |  01/15/2018

Recipe: Jayhawk State Rooster Chili

You can never have too may chili recipes. This traditional family recipe warms up any gathering.

By Jack Hennessy

My mother-in-law, Debra Schwyhart, grew up in a family of bird hunters with no bird dog. As a child, her birthday also happened to fall around the traditional Kansas pheasant opener. Guess who served as the bird dog? You guessed it: Instead of a party with ice cream and cake, Debra often spent her birthdays helping flush longtails to fill the freezer.

One might expect a tinge of resentment to grow after having hunting season take precedent over a birthday, but, quite to the contrary, Debra was happy to have pheasant on the dinner table. However, it wasn’t until she was an adult that she came across this alternate version of chili. It quickly became a family favorite and we often enjoy it whenever we get together.

Yes, there are some folks who will tell you there is no such thing as chili that contains cream and isn’t of a red hue. It also worth pointing out any “chili” with beans is also technically not chili, as the International Chili Society defines traditional red chili as “any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA, which are strictly forbidden.”

In a state where a Jayhawk is revered, though its name refers to a nonexistent animal, does it really matter what we name things, as long as they create a sense of joy and magic?


(Makes four servings)

1 pheasant, roasted and picked, yielding 2 to 2-1/2 cups of meat

2 tablespoons olive oil
32 ounces pheasant or chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
1 4-ounce can of diced green chiles
1 15.8-ounce can of white beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black bepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
6 ounces sour cream
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
(meat and any juices from pheasant)

Blue corn tortilla chips
Freshly chopped cilantro


Completely thaw one whole pheasant (skin on or off, makes no difference for this recipe). Liberally salt and pepper pheasant. Pre-heat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pheasant in a roasting pan and roast pheasant at 420 degrees for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Save any juices that have accumulated in pan. Set pheasant aside to cool.

Heat a large pot on medium-low and add olive oil. Dice onion and add to pot. Finely mince garlic and add alongside onion. Lightly salt and pepper. Stir often until onions are soft and slightly brown.

Once pheasant has cooled, thoroughly pick all meat off bones and hand-shred to bite-size pieces. Add any leftover juices and shredded pheasant to pot with onions and garlic. Add diced green chiles and stir, letting cook for a few minutes. Add 32 ounces of pheasant or chicken stock, along with white beans (make sure they’ve been rinsed), cumin, oregano, cayenne and salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low and let simmer for half hour, stirring intermittently. Add sour cream and heavy cream right before serving. Stir cream in but make sure chili remains warm (between 160 and 180 degrees). This may require a few minutes of heating back up to temperature before dishing out. Garnish with crushed blue corn tortilla chips and freshly chopped cilantro.  

Jack Hennessy is an outdoor writer for Brothers and Company ad agency and a freelance journalist based out of Wichita. He is the author of the blog “Braising the Wild.” Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @WildGameJack or on Facebook at