Pheasant, whether farm-grown or taken from the wild, is a flavorful treat for a special dinner. Cooked in a large crock-pot, the flavors meld into melt-in-your-mouth tender morsels. Cooking the bird slowly ensures that it stays moist and tender. Plan to have one pheasant for two people or two pheasants for four people. Farm-grown pheasant are generally larger than wild birds.
How to Cook Pheasant in a Slow Cooker
Thaw the Pheasant
Thaw a farm-grown or wild frozen pheasant for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Avoid thawing on the counter; bacteria grow quickly at room temperature. Cook the bird within 24 hours of thawing.
Soak the Bird
Whether farm-grown or wild game, pheasant can retain a slight gamy taste. You may prefer to soak your bird in a simple brine, your favorite marinade, or both. A basic brine consists of ¼-cup salt mixed with enough water to cover the pheasant. Weigh down the bird with a plate in a large pot so it's completely covered. Let the bird soak in the brine for at least 1 hour. Rinse and prepare for cooking, or marinade the bird.
A marinade taken from your favorite crock-pot pheasant recipe may consist of balsamic vinegar, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, liquid smoke, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, wine and/or a variety of spices. Mix the marinade in a large bowl or a large plastic bag and put the bird in the marinade. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Turn the bag over regularly to ensure the entire bird is soaked in the marinade.
Pheasant Recipes in the Slow Cooker
After removing the bird from the brine or marinade, put it in the cold crock-pot. At this point, you can mix coarsely chopped apples, oranges, onions and garlic cloves, and stuff the bird loosely with the mixture. If you want to reuse the marinade, boil it before pouring it back over the bird in the crock-pot. Otherwise, add at least ½-cup water or chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.
Alternately, cut each pheasant into four portions. Dredge the parts in flour and brown in butter in a hot pan until browned on all sides. Place the pheasant parts in the cold crock-pot. Cook bacon and chopped onions, celery, garlic and other spices together until softened. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly add ½-cup chicken broth and, if desired, 1 ½-cups cider. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour over the pheasant parts in the crock-pot and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Make a Pheasant Casserole
Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Select one of your favorite pheasant casserole recipes or combine several to make a new dish. Dip the pheasant pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and brown in a hot pan. Place the parts in a large casserole dish. Add sour or whipping cream, mushrooms, sliced onions, garlic cloves and ½-cup water or wine. Cover and bake for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh reads at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roast a Pheasant
Brine or marinade one or two pheasants. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Stuff the bird with your favorite stuffing recipe or a mixture composed of one each of chopped apple, orange and onion. Add thyme and rosemary if desired. Slide the stuffed bird into a cooking bag and place it breast-side up in a roasting pan. Pierce the cooking bag once or twice.
Bake the pheasant for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the bird to rest for at least 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. Remove the stuffing and place it in a serving dish. If you stuffed the bird with a fruit and onion mixture, discard it.
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