Recipes & Cooking  |  02/16/2022

Gamebird Gourmet // Taking Stock, Making Stock


Another way to use the whole bird as an ode to all the hard work you put into the hunt

By Lukas Leaf

After fileting the breast, thigh and leg meat off a skinned pheasant, most hunters throw away the remaining carcass. But take stock of what’s left: Make pheasant stock!

Stock is liquid gold in any game cook’s repertoire, and it transforms a good dish into extraordinary. All you need to make stock is a decent-sized pot and a handful of ingredients that most people already have in the fridge and pantry. 

You can do a quick stock in one hour or let it bubble away for over a day. The longer it cooks, the more flavorful it becomes. The more it reduces while cooking, the more concentrated the flavor. Storage is a breeze: Freeze stock in plastic quart containers, but glass jars will work in a pinch. 

Using the whole bird is an ode to all the hard work put into pursuing wild roosters. Here is how to make a pheasant stock you can use in any recipe, such as Pheasant & Dumpling Soup.

Recipe: Pheasant Stock

Makes 3 Quarts

  • 1-2 roasted pheasant carcasses
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 1-2 carrots, rough chopped 
  • 3-5 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cut in half lengthwise 
  • 5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Roast the pheasant carcasses, lightly coated in extra virgin olive oil, at 425º until nice and browned. (You can also skip this step and put them in the pot raw.) Add the carcasses to a large stockpot with the water and the rest of the stock ingredients. Bring the stock to a boil and immediately reduce it to a very light simmer. 
  2. The goal is to extract as much flavor from the ingredients as possible without reducing the volume of the liquid. Skim any scum that comes to the top of the pot as it cooks. Let the stock lightly simmer for two hours or more.
  3. Strain and let the stock cool to at least room temperature, then pour the stock into freezer containers for later use or follow proper canning guidelines for storage in jars.


Recipe: Pheasant & Dumpling Soup

Servings: 6
Cooking Time: 2 hours

  • 2 packed cups of cooked pheasant meat
  • 2 cups peeled gold potato, small diced
  • 1 cup carrot, small diced
  • 1 cup celery, small diced
  • 2 quarts pheasant stock 
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Cook the pheasant. Season pheasant breasts, legs and thighs with coarse salt. Sear all sides until browned. Add water until barely covered. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for an hour or until tender. Let the meat cool in the liquid. Pull the meat off the bones and lightly shred for the soup. Reserve cooking liquid.
  2. Make dumplings. Add all ingredients except for the milk and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined. (I recommend a microplane for the lemon zest). Make a small well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the butter and milk. Mix until just combined. With an ice cream scoop or a spoon, portion 12-14 dumplings onto a lightly floured plate. Set aside. 
  3. Make the soup. Add the oil and butter in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme, then season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add one quart of your pheasant stock, one quart of the pheasant cooking liquid and the heavy cream. Check for seasoning. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to a strong simmer. Add the pulled pheasant meat and stir. 
  4. Add the dumplings. While the soup is simmering, gently place the dumplings into the liquid. Give them a light push into the liquid. Cover the soup and let the dumplings cook for 10-15 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Immediately remove from the heat or the dumplings will continue to cook. Finish the soup with lemon juice and fresh parsley.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to see more delicious upland recipes in the pages of Pheasants Forever Journal, become a Pheasants Forever member today!