Servings: 2 – 3



1 young 3-3 ½ pound pheasant

3 cups buttermilk

Neutral vegetable oil

Smokey paprika

4-6 thick, country-cut bacon strips

½ large onion, peeled and cut in chunks

1 peeled carrot, cut in chunks

4 tablespoons melted butter (for oven method)




Rinse pheasant. Check to remove any feather quills from skin. Tuck each wing tip under the same side shoulder.


Place pheasant in a waterproof bag or deep bowl. Add buttermilk. Seal bag or cover bowl. Keep cold for 12 hours, rotating the pheasant 3 times.


Prepare chosen cooking source.


Cook’s Note: My personal preference is to roast the pheasant outside on an open fire with a hood that keeps the smoke around the bird. Wood embers may be utilized for the main heat source. Generally, a properly prepared wood-based cooking fire requires 30-45 minutes to reach the right mix of embers and a few burning logs. Also, a wood-based cooking fire must be monitored to maintain a consistent temperature.  Be certain to have additional kindling available to stoke the fire.  Use a favorite lighter hardwood (apple, cherry, other fruit woods, alder, maple, hickory,and other nut-bearing woods are possibilities) that has been soaked in water for 12 hours for smoking.


After the 12 hours have passed, remove pheasant from buttermilk. Rinse interior and exterior of pheasant. Pat dry.


Coat interior and exterior of pheasant with oil.


Fill cavity with onion and carrot.


Liberally sprinkle smokey paprika over the exterior of the pheasant.


Place pheasant on its back and lay strips of bacon over the pheasant to cover the entire top (breast, legs, thighs and wings).


Open fire or barbecue method:

When heat source is hot (approximately 400° F.), place pheasant on a piece of tin foil* on top of a grill placed 18″ above the floor of the fire (or in a baking dish on a rack in the oven, or on the barbecue grill) with bacon on top. If roasting over a fire or in a barbecue, add wood for smoking to the embers. Cover and roast pheasant for 15 minutes with the bacon on it. Remove bacon and continue to roast, or place on a rotisserie, pheasant at a lower temperature (approximately 350° F.) for 30 minutes,maintaining temperature by adding kindling and replenishing the wood for smoking as required.


Carefully remove foil from under the bird and cook directly on the fire with the hood in place or in the covered barbecue, turning 45° twice at 15 minute intervals to create crosshatch. If on a rotisserie, just continue to roast.


Continue to roast over the covered barbecue or on the rotisserie until the pheasant is almost done (approximately 165° F.). Remove from fire and tent with foil.  Pheasant will continue to “cook” under the tent for 5-10°for about 10 minutes.  


Cook’s Note: Juices will run clear when pheasant is done.  This is a delicate meat. Do not overcook.


Oven method:

If preferred, the pheasant can be roasted in an open roasting pan in a preheated 400° F. oven for 15 minutes with the bacon covering the top of the bird.  Remove bacon and reduce heat to 325°F.  Baste with melted butter every half hour for an hour to an hour and a half or until the skin has browned.  Tent the pheasant with foil and continue roasting in the oven until an internal temperature of 165°F. is reached (best taken in a thigh without touching the bone).  Remove bird from oven and allow to rest under the tent of foil for 10 minutes.


Remove onion and carrot.


Place pheasant decoratively on a platter. Possible decorations include kale, red lettuce leaves or fennel fronds covering the plate, baked stuffing tucked into the breast cavity, broiled mushrooms, fresh thyme sprigs, bunches of red grapes, small boiled new red potatoes in skins, roasted chestnuts and prepared red or white boiling onions.




 *Historical Note: Tin foil was available in the late 1800’s.  Aluminum foil is the current cooking equivalent.



Smothered Pheasant

Serves: 4



3 cups deboned, cooked pheasant cut in large chunks

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

10 ounces boiled red pearl onions

10 ounces boiled white pearl onions

4 cups heavy cream

Smokey paprika




Melt butter.


Saute mushrooms.


Add flour. Stir until flour is golden.


Slowly add cream, stirring constantly. When cream sauce is smooth, add nutmeg and onions.


Add pheasant. Stir to distribute ingredients evenly.


Carefully heat over medium heat until mixture is hot.


Cook’s Note: The cream sauce should not bubble or boil as it will curdle.


Place in serving dish.  Sprinkle lightly with smokey paprika.


Serve plain or over prepared wild rice, prepared brown rice, cheddar biscuits, toast points, egg noodles, mashed potatoes or your favorite choice.