|  05/13/2021

Gamebird Gourmet // Stuffed Pheasant


This versatile upland recipe fits into a meal any season of year

By Lukas Leaf

Sometimes you just need a timeless recipe to rip out and save for later.

This stuffed pheasant is one of those recipes. It is versatile enough to fit into a meal any season of the year, and will please adults and children alike. You could even avoid the breading altogether and opt to grill these up, making them the perfect fit for your next backyard barbecue. If you choose to go the grilled route, simply follow the steps leading up to the breading and fire them up on the grill after using your favorite seasoning or marinade. 

Pheasant breasts are much smaller than chicken, which is classically used for these types of recipes. By cutting down on the filling they turn out fantastic and can be served as finger food for an appetizer or used as a main dish. 

Any version of this stuffed pheasant can be fried whole, but I prefer to sear them in oil on all sides until browned and then finish them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes to heat the filling through fully. Pan searing minimizes all the mess that comes with deep frying. Plus, the entire recipe can be made in one pan, minus the sauce and whatever you choose to serve with it. 

Some scalloped potatoes lightly smoked on the grill and a creamy Dijon sauce would be perfect to pair up with the Cordon Bleu.


Serves: 2-4
Cook time: 30 minutes (+ 90 minutes prep, mostly resting in fridge)

For the breading:
3 eggs whipped
1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with
   kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs, or similar
   homemade breadcrumbs
¾ cup canola oil, for pan frying

Filling options:

Jalapeño Popper
6 pheasant breasts
1 block plain cream cheese, sliced into
   ¼-inch thick pieces
1 cup sliced jalapeño peppers in vinegar,
   from jar

6 pheasant breasts
½ cup sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
½ cup large green olives, pitted and 
   finely chopped 
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and 
   finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup feta cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced

Calzone Style
6 pheasant breasts
½ cup pepperoni, chopped
½ cup cooked sausage, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup pasta sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili flakes, optional

Cordon Bleu
6 pheasant breasts
½ pound thin sliced ham
6 slices swiss cheese
Seasoning of your choice, but with a 
   salt base

1. Prepare the pheasant. Place one breast in a large ziploc bag. Pound the breast evenly to about ¼-inch in thickness with a meat mallet. Be gentle so you don’t split the meat. Repeat with the remaining breasts, season, and set aside.

2. Set the pounded breast onto an 18-inch-long piece of plastic cling wrap. Make sure the length cut is facing left to right. Place the pounded pheasant on the edge of the plastic closest to you and in the middle. Spread ¼ cup of the Jalapeño Popper, Mediterranean or Calzone-style filling. Roll the filling into the pheasant tightly so each end touches and completely covers the filling. Roll the stuffed pheasant in the plastic wrap. At this point, you should have roughly six inches of plastic left on each side. Twist the ends off until the roll is nice and tight. Tie the plastic off and repeat the process for the other pheasant breasts. Place the tied stuffed pheasant in the refrigerator for at least one hour to set and seal. 
For the Cordon Bleu: To the pheasant add cheese, then ham, cheese, ham, and finish with cheese. Leave about a half an inch of meat visible on each side of the filling before rolling and sealing as above.

3.  Remove the stuffed pheasant breasts from the refrigerator. Cut one end of the plastic and remove the stuffed pheasant. Prepare the breading. In three separate bowls add the seasoned flour, whipped eggs and panko breadcrumbs. In order, roll the pheasant in the flour, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining stuffed pheasant breast.

4.  Add ½ cup of canola oil to a medium-sized cast iron pan. When the oil is ready, sear each side of the stuffed pheasant until golden brown. Transfer them to a baking sheet and finish in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and sides.

Tips and Tricks
Rolling the pheasant in plastic wrap and cinching the ends helps to seal all the goodness that you’ve stuffed into the pheasant breasts. Don’t skimp on the time in the fridge: The longer they sit the better.

Lukas Leaf is the lead chef at Modern Carnivore when he’s not hunting, fishing or working for Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters as executive director.

This story originally appeared in the 2021 Spring Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a Pheasants Forever member today!