Recipe: Pan-Roasted Pheasant Dijon

2413d2cc-f17b-4436-863e-9f95f0dc9998 By Danielle Prewett

Pan-roasting is one of the most reliable ways of ensuring a perfectly juicy, evenly-cooked pheasant breast. I use this cooking technique often in my kitchen and with several different types of protein. This approach works wonderfully for any skinless gamebird breast meat, which is how most hunters break down their birds. That's why I chose to share a recipe and give a seminar on Pan-Roasting for the Wild Game Cooking Stage at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2018.

Pan-roasting is a two step process that starts by searing the pheasant breast on a hot sauté pan, flipping, and then immediately transferring the pan into a preheated oven to finish cooking. Searing the meat over direct high heat is the best way to get a crispy golden texture on the outside. Transferring it to an evenly-heated oven allows you to cook the interior to the right temperature without drying it out. Once finished, the pheasant breast leaves behind the drippings, called fond, which greatly enhances the flavor of your pan sauce.

Pan-Roasted Pheasant Dijon is the perfect example of this technique. The recipe is finished with a simple pan sauce made with leeks, white wine and dijon mustard. The carrots are drizzled with a touch of honey and roasted until caramelized, adding a little sweetness to balance out the acidity of the wine and sharpness of the mustard.  

The pheasant is seasoned with Herbs of Provence, a French mixture of dried herbs usually consisting of a combination of thyme, marjoram, lavender, oregano, basil, tarragon, rosemary and fennel. You can find this spice mix in most grocery stores but if not, substitute with a combination of any of those dried herbs listed.

Buy a quality bottle of crispy, dry white wine because there will be leftovers for drinking. Also, be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for soaking up the sauce.
 

Pan-Roasted Pheasant Dijon

Serves 4
 

INGREDIENTS

Meat and Sauce
4 Pheasant Breasts, (Seasoned with salt up to 24 hours in advance)
Fresh cracked pepper 
2 t. Herbs of Provence
2 T. Clarified Butter/Butter, Divided
1 Leek, using white/green parts only and thinly sliced
1½ C. Chicken Stock
¾ C. Dry White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
1½ T. Dijon Mustard
Oil for Cooking
2 T. chopped chives for garnish
Optional: Dollop of crème fraîche to finish

Honey Roasted Carrots
1 lb. Carrots, (Reserve greens if you have tops on)
1 T. Oil (Avocado, Canola, etc.)
1 t. Honey
Salt + Pepper to taste
 

METHOD

Carrots
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Scrub carrots clean and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces,  If they are large, slice in half lengthwise.  If stems are on, save the tops for garnishing. Spread carrots across a large sheet pan and drizzle with oil and honey then season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Roast in oven until tender and caramelized, about 25-35 minutes.

Pheasant
1. Bring pheasant to room temperature and pat very dry with paper towel. Season with fresh cracked pepper and the 2 t. of Herbs of Provence.

2. Heat an oven-proof pan over high heat and once hot, add about 1 T. of oil. Using tongs, lay each breast down (leaving room in between). Use a metal spatula to press each breast down so that it comes in full contact with pan. Sear for a minute or two to allow the meat to develop a golden crust and then flip. Press down again with a spatula. Add one tablespoon of clarified butter to pan and once melted, tilt the pan to the side and use a spoon to baste the butter on top of each breast.

3. Transfer the entire pan into the oven to finish roasting. Cook for about 5-8 minutes in oven or until the breast reaches about 140 degrees. Pull the pan from oven and set the pheasant breasts aside to rest.

Pan Sauce
1.  Bring the same pan onto the stovetop back at medium heat (Tip: keep a pot holder over handle so you don't burn yourself).

2. Add a little bit of oil to the pan and then spread the sliced leeks across. Allow the leeks to cook, undisturbed, for about a minute and then stir. Once they begin to brown after a few minutes of cooking, deglaze the pan by adding the liquids: Stock, Wine and Mustard.

3. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-8 minutes until reduced in half (timing depends on size of pan). Turn the heat off and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter. As the sauce cools it will begin to thicken. Optional: Add a dollop of crème fraîche to finish.

Serve
1. When the carrots are finished roasting, add them into the pan with the Dijon pan sauce. Mix to combine and spoon the sauce over the pheasant.

2. Garnish with fresh chopped chives, and carrot tops if saved.

See Danielle Prewett on the Wild Game Cooking Stage at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2018, February 16-18 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.