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Upland Game Bird Recipes

How to smoke a pheasant

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant, snipe, quail, wild turkey, partridge, grouse. These are the chicken of wild game birds. Pheasants being the semi-wild cousins of chickens, and quail, partridges and chukars all being accessible from a taste standpoint. The notable exception is the ruffed grouse, which has a strong flavor that, in my mind, makes it far superior to pheasant or quail, which can be bland.

To those of you who do not hunt, pheasants and quail are easily obtainable; our local high-end supermarket has them all the time. They will have even less of a wild flavor than their country cousins, but they are still a fair piece better than your average chicken. And yes, chicken can be subbed in for any pheasant dish.

One thing all these birds have in common is that they should not be served rare and they can all dry out in a heartbeat. Fun, huh? Makes them more of a challenge. You do, however, want a blush of pink on them, like a good-quality pork loin. If you know what you are doing they are great roasted or grilled, but do not walk away or they will dry out. Pheasants are especially good poached, whether in butter or broth.

Quail are delicate little birds best served whole but partially deboned. I intend to post a step-by-step tutorial on deboning birds soon. Believe me, it’s not real easy.

All these birds make superior stock, and the legs, thighs and wings of all are excellent made into confit.

NOTE: Most of these recipes are interchangeable, i.e., if you like a pheasant recipe but have partridges or sharptail grouse or wild turkey or a domestic chicken, it’ll work.


Jump to: PHEASANTS | PARTRIDGES | TURKEY | GROUSE | SNIPE & WOODCOCK | QUAIL

BASICS

How to Pluck a Pheasant

This is how I pluck pheasants, quail and other upland game birds.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

On Hanging Pheasants

Everything you need to know about safely hanging game birds of all kinds.

How to Break Down a Game Bird

Step by step instructions on how to cut up pheasants, ducks, quail or other birds.

Wild Game Fat and Flavor

Not all wild game fat is bad. In fact, depending on what the animal had been eating, it can be more than wonderful. Here’s what you need to know.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Confit

Probably the best thing you can do with the legs of upland game birds like pheasants, turkeys or big grouse. Slow cooked and pulled off the bone, this gets around those nasty tendons.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Game Dirty Rice

An excellent all-purpose recipe for upland game bird giblets. You will not even know you are eating them in this dish, which is basically Cajun fried rice.

PHEASANTS

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Whole Birds

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Simple Roast Pheasant

A basic recipe for roasting a whole, skin-on pheasant.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Glazed Roast Pheasant

A whole roasted pheasant glazed with something sweet, like maple syrup, honey or a fruit syrup — in this case, prickly pear syrup.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Beer Can Pheasant

Similar to beer can chicken, this is slow cooked pheasant on the grill propped up with a Red Bull can or a narrow jelly jar. It really works!
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Smoked Pheasant

A whole pheasant, slow-smoked over hardwoods and glazed with maple syrup or honey.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant and Dumplings

Just like the Southern classic chicken and dumplings, only with pheasants.

Breasts

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wiener Schnitzel

The Austrian classic, made with pounded out skinless pheasant breast cutlets.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Piccata

Pounded skinless pheasant cutlets, breaded and served with a tangy lemon-white wine sauce… and lots of butter.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Peperonata

Skinless pheasant breast cooked with sweet and spicy peppers and onions.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Hunan Dong’an Pheasant

A Chinese dish that uses braised pheasant pieces and the broth you used to cook them in.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

General Tso’s Pheasant

This is basically the crack cocaine of Chinese food. Slightly sweet, savory and spicy, this is one of the best recipes on this website.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Kung Pao Pheasant

This recipe ain’t no slouch, either. Another Chinese restaurant classic, tender pieces of pheasant breast are stir-fried with vegetables and peanuts.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Salad with Fennel

A cooling summertime pheasant dish made with poached pheasant breasts and fresh fennel bulb.

Pheasant with Pomegranate Sauce

Pan-roasted pheasant breasts served with a tangy pomegranate sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Breast with Parsley Sauce

Seared pheasant breast with a refined – and beautiful – parsley sauce inspired by the French Laundry.

Stews and Braises

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Cacciatore

The Italian standard, made with pheasant instead of chicken. Also works with other game birds or rabbit.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Kentucky Burgoo

This is a big, hearty stew that always has at least three meats in it. In this recipe it’s pheasant, squirrel and venison. Feel free to improvise on your own!
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Greek Pheasant Pasta

A fantastic Greek recipe from Chef Michael Psilakis of New York City. This one is shockingly awesome.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

German Pheasant Stew

Although this recipe is designed for rabbit, it works just as well for pheasants or other game birds.

Pheasant Dordogne

Braised pheasant, turkey (or old rooster chicken!) legs, done French style with mushrooms and verjus or vinegar.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

French Hunter's Stew

This is a more refined version of the Italian cacciatore. The recipe comes from Chartreuse, in the French Alps.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Normandy

Yet another French dish with pheasant, this one with apples, brandy and cream. It is, as you might guess, from Normandy, in the north of France.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant with Mushrooms and Cream

No, NOT Cream of Mushroom soup! Well, sorta. Only you make it from scratch here…
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Saturday Pheasant

This recipe actually DOES have Cream of Mushroom soup in it. It is the only recipe on this website to do so. Why? It is a 1970s dish I grew up with (made with chicken), and it is as awesome as it is easy.

A Rustic Pheasant and Pork Pie

This is a pot pie inspired by a recipe from English chef Fergus Henderson.

Other Pheasant Recipes

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant Buffalo Wings

Yep, you can make Buffalo wings with pheasant wings. Once you simmer them a bit to tenderize them, they are every bit as good as chicken wings.

PARTRIDGES (CHUKAR, HUNS, ETC)

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Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Partridges with Cranberries and Rosemary

A deceptively simple dish, the secret to this recipe is how you cook the partridges.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Grilled Partridges with Tomato Salad

This is for when you have a few partridges left over from the season. Save a couple to make this light summertime supper.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Hungarian Partridge Montana

Huns roasted, carved and served with spaetzle and a sweet-and-sour sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Brined Roast Chukar or Partridge

Brining these birds helps keep them moist when you roast them. This one is served with an apple brandy sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Partridge Baked in Salt

Entombing the birds in salt is another way to preserve the moisture in the partridges — if you use the right salt.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Partridge or Pheasant Escabeche

An old Spanish tradition, where the birds are cooked, then preserved for up to several weeks in a vinegary sauce.

WILD or DOMESTIC TURKEY

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Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Poached Wild Turkey with Gravy

A good way to keep wild turkey breast tender. This is a perfect Thanksgiving meal for a small family.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Turkey Parmesan

Just like chicken parm, only with wild turkey. And yep, you can make this with any upland game bird.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Turkey Risotto

Wild turkey broth and breast meat go into this Italian rice dish. It has some powerful turkey flavor, so be warned!
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Turkey Marsala

Another classic restaurant dish, this is pounded, skinless cutlets from turkey (or pheasant) breast, breaded and served with a sauce that hinges on Marsala wine and mushrooms.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Turkey Carnitas

The BEST thing to make with wild turkey drumsticks. You get around the sinews by slow cooking the meat and pulling it off the bone. Then it’s taco time!
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Barbecued Wild Turkey

Turkey thighs are the absolute best part of the bird! Slow barbecued and slathered with maple-bourbon BBQ sauce, you will wonder why you never kept them before…

Wild Turkey Broth

A basic broth you can make from the carcasses of a wild or domesticated turkey.

GROUSE

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Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Grouse Salad with Barley and Tomatoes

A summertime grouse salad with barley and cherry tomatoes. This salad is good with any upland game bird.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Ruffed Grouse Minnesota

This is a recipe dedicated to the North Woods. Roast grouse, served with wild mushrooms and wild cranberry sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Sharptail Grouse, Prairie Style

Sharpies, gently poached and served with the flavors of the Great Plains: Grain, sunflowers, rose hips.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Simple Roast Grouse

Ruffed grouse roasted and glazed with something sweet, like maple syrup or honey.
Photo by Chris Niskanen

Grouse Risotto

A rich Italian rice dish made with grouse meat and broth.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Grouse Soup with Wild Rice

An ode to the woods: Grouse soup with acorns and wild rice. A very earthy, wintry dish.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Nordic Grouse Soup

This is a lighter grouse soup, inspired by the flavors of Scandinavia.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Roast Sharptail Grouse

A simple recipe specifically designed for sharptail grouse, which are a dark meat bird.

SNIPE and WOODCOCK

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Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Roast Woodcock

A classic preparation for one of the finest game birds in the world.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Woodcock Michigan

Roast woodcock, served with a crabapple-red wine vinegar sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Roast Snipe

Yes, it’s a real bird. Snipe should be plucked whole and served roasted in a very hot oven. You want the meat to be pink when you serve it.

Eating the Mystical Snipe

Yeah, this is a fancy dish, but it is crazy good if you are willing to put in the work.

QUAIL

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Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Buttermilk Fried Quail

Southern style fried quail. This is not fancy food, just good.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Grilled Quail, South Carolina Style

Butterflied quail grilled and served with a mustardy South Carolina style BBQ sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Barbecued Quail with Arizona Sauce

Barbecued quail slathered in a Southwest style BBQ sauce that has tequila, wild chiltepin chiles and prickly pear syrup.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Greek Preserved Quail

Similar to Spanish escabeche, you gently poach semi-boned quail and marinate them in olive oil and herbs for up to several weeks. A great cold appetizer.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Roast Quail

A basic method for roasting quail. You want a touch of pink in the breast meat but crisp skin. This requires a very hot oven.

More Wild Game Recipes

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