Greek Pheasant Pasta

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greek pheasant pasta recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pheasant is my chicken. Where most people search around for new and interesting chicken recipes, I comb my cookbooks for interesting recipes for pheasant. This one has become a favorite of mine. It’s Greek, or at least was designed by a Greek-American: Michael Psilakis, a well-known chef in New York whose book How to Roast a Lamb is the inspiration for this dish.

Psilakis’ book is not your typical “celeb chef” cookbook. It is designed around Psilakis’ life story, and that story happens to include hunting with his family on Long Island and in upstate New York. I love Greek food anyway, but when I learned that his book includes a whole chapter on game, I had to buy it.

Many of my wild game cookbooks endlessly repeat variations of old standards — don’t get me wrong, I love venison steak Diane and pheasant cacciatore as much as the next guy — but I am always looking for others who are pushing wild game cookery in new directions. Psilakis doesn’t disappoint.

His book has recipes like grilled rabbit confit, and grilled quail with sweet-and-sour charred onion and a venison stew that is unlike any other I’ve ever seen; rest assured I’ll be making a lot of these dishes in the coming months.

greek pheasant pasta recipe
5 from 9 votes

Greek Pheasant Pasta

I started my tour through Michael Psilakis' game recipes with this pheasant dish because I had a shot-up bird that couldn't be roasted. When I read the ingredients for this spaghetti recipe, I was hooked. It's so... medieval. It seems like a throwback dish to the Byzantine Empire or something. There is a sweet-and-sour thing going on here, with lots of herbs and shredded pheasant bits. Holly and I just couldn't stop eating it: We ate a four-person portion between the two of us. Don't be scared off by the long list of ingredients here -- none are hard to find in a normal supermarket. And if you don't have pheasants, use partridges, chicken or turkey. 
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pheasant, cut into serving pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine (use Mavrodaphne, a Greek sweet wine, if you can get it)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 4-6 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (Greek, if possible)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons mustard
  • About 3-5 cups water (see below)
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 8-10 dates, pitted and chopped roughly
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, mint, fennel fronds or a combination of the three

Instructions 

  • In a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the pheasant pieces. Sprinkle some salt over them as they brown. Take your time and make sure everything is nicely browned, as it makes a difference in the final dish. Remove the pheasant and set aside.
  • Add the carrot, celery and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. While the veggies are cooking, mix the tomato paste in with the red wine and stir vigorously until they combine. Add to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom.
  • Put the pheasant pieces back into the pot, then add the thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, cinnamon stick, vinegar, mustard -- and enough water to cover everything by about 1 inch. Bring this to a simmer and cook over low heat until the pheasant meat wants to fall off the bone. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes for a young, pen-raised pheasant to 2 hours for an old rooster.
  • Remove the pheasant and pull all the meat off the bones, and put it into a large bowl. Discard the cinnamon stick. Look at the pot, and if there is less than 2-3 inches of liquid in it, add some more water and bring it to a boil.
  • Break the spaghetti in half and toss it into the pot with the dates, pine nuts and raisins if you are using them. Boil the pasta in the sauce uncovered until it is al dente. Toward the end of cooking you may need to stir the pasta frequently because the sauce will be getting close to boiling away. If it does get too dry, add 1/4 cup of water just to loosen it.
  • When the pasta is done, turn off the heat and return the pheasant to the pot. Add the fresh herbs and toss to combine everything. Drizzle a little olive oil over it and serve at once with a light-bodied red wine or a hoppy beer.

Nutrition

Calories: 1491kcal | Carbohydrates: 146g | Protein: 98g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 242mg | Sodium: 337mg | Potassium: 2033mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 4218IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 9mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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16 Comments

  1. My husband and I loved the Greek Pheasant! I’m anxious to eat leftovers tomorrow because I think the pasta will be even better.

  2. My wife picked the recipe and my initial thought was that it wasn’t something I would typically gravitate to. Glad we went with it, because we devoured it. Absolutely fantastic.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this receipe Hank. Tried it tonight with chukar and gray partridge and it was a big hit with the whole family. Very interesting/unusual pasta dish. I’ll be continuing to explore your upland bird recipes this winter with my remaining stash of birds

  4. Wow. This is one hell of a dish. Greek sweet and sour. The more I ate it, the more I liked it. The layering of flavors is profound. It’s not a dish I would put on a regular rotation but this is definitely on the list if I’m looking for something other pheasant pot pie or pheasant soup.

    On to Orange Pheasant and Pheasant Normandy.

  5. This looks delicious! All I have are pheasant breasts….about how many do you think I should use in place of the pheasant pieces?

  6. Going on my first hunt ever Sunday. Seriously hoping I have an excuse to make these shortly after! Thanks for all the inspiration and motivation Hank.

  7. This dish sounds so delicious. Including pheasant with pasta is simply an ingenious idea and very tasty. Thanks for putting up this recipe.

  8. Currently scouring your site for all your fantastic pheasant information. Hanging, plucking, gutting… it’s a whole new world. Thanks for your help!

  9. I’m a big fan of Psilakis’s How to Roast a Lamb for the recipes and gorgeous photography. This one looks great and you’ve inspired me to revisit his book.