Growing up I was fascinated by food. I loved taking different ingredients and putting them together to create something new and exciting. I took this love of food with me as I ventured into hunting and fishing. My goal as a wild game chef is to teach people that wild game can not only look great, but taste great too. I want to help people understand that the so called “gamey” flavor of meat is not a negative, but a positive to be embraced. You can pair seasonings and spices with the wild game and enhance and expand the natural flavor.
One of my favorite game meats to work with is pheasant. Pheasant is mild in flavor and cooks beautifully in any chicken style recipe you have. You can grill, bake, smoke and fry it with simple ingredients and create memorable, amazingly easy meals.
How this orange pheasant recipe came about goes as followed. I was out in the field teaching new hunters on a state ran youth hunt. I was one of the field instructors and got talking to a father and his two sons about the birds we were hunting. The dad said he hated eating pheasant because it always dried out, tasted earthy and never cooks up right. Of course being a wild game chef, I started defending the pheasant and digging deeper trying to change the dads mind so he did not tarnish his son’s thoughts on the meat. I asked the boys what their favorite meal was, and we landed on orange chicken.
I told that dad he could cook up the pheasant they had just harvested and create his boys favorite orange chicken dish. He laughed and said he doubted it, pheasant could never look or taste like chicken. I replied, “Challenge accepted.”
That night I went home and started working on my recipe, mixing and matching ingredients to create the perfect orange glaze. What I came up with was better than I could have ever planned. I cooked it, photographed it and of course ate it, then emailed the dad my recipe.
I got an email back a week later and it simply read, “Jeremiah, Thank you for proving me wrong. Not only was the pheasant moist, flavorful and delicious, but I wanted more. Thank you.”
My goal had been accomplished. So here is that recipe I created. It’s simple, step by step instructions make it easy to follow and I promise it will leave you wanting more. Enjoy your meal and remember the real trophy is the one on the plate, not the wall.
Orange Chicken Style Pheasant
2 pounds pheasant (can use turkey, chicken or chukar)
1 cup flour
¼ cup corn starch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ cup cooking oil (I love avocado oil, it has the highest flash point and doesn’t burn or smoke until 500 degrees)
1. Chop pheasant into 1 inch cubes, nice bite size pieces
2. In plastic bag mix all dry ingredients, close bag and shake to mix
3. Add egg to medium bowl and beat until yolk in mixed with whites
4. Add pheasant and coat with egg wash
5. Add pheasant to bag in batches and shake to fully coat, remove and set aside until all pheasant has been coated. Let rest for 5-10 minutes
6. While chicken is resting add oil to wok or skillet and heat over medium
7. Once oil is hot add the pheasant in batches, cooking fully and crispy about 4-6 minutes per batch.
8. Once all pheasant has cooked set aside and start on your orange glaze
Orange Glaze Ingredients
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1⁄4 cup water
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 1⁄2 tablespoons soy sauce
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
Orange Glaze Directions
1. Mix together in small bowl orange juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, white vinegar and zest until sugar is dissolved, add 1 tablespoon cornstarch and mix smooth, set aside
2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok or skillet
3. Next add ginger and garlic and Saute for 30 seconds
4. Stir in crushed red pepper and rice wine and still for 15 seconds to mix
5. Add orange juice mixture to wok or skillet and bring to a boil, stirring often so not to burn sauce
6. Once sauce comes to a boil add cooked pheasant and stir until evenly coated
7. Remove from heat and place on a bed of brown rice then garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.