Pheasant Stew

4.90 from 29 votes
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pheasant stew recipe in bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

When you decide to make pheasant stew you can go in any number of different directions. But you might as well go classic French and make your pheasant stew a real-deal coq au vin.

Coq au vin simply means “rooster in wine,” and it has historically been made with an old, usually troublesome rooster chicken. And when I say historically I mean it: This recipe has been around since Roman times.

Most people make coq au vin with a store-bought chicken, and this is OK, but nothing like the real dish, which needs an old bird. A stewing hen is a good option for non-hunters, but a pheasant is better. After all, it’s a rooster, a coq.

Yes, you can make this stew all at once, but it’s better if you marinate the bird in de-alcoholized wine for a day or three. What’s that mean? Wine you bring to a simmer, then cool. Why bother? Fully alcoholic wine as a marinade can impart a weird, tinny flavor to the meat. It’s not so huge that you’ll hate your pheasant stew if you don’t do this, but it is noticeable enough to make the extra effort worth it.

What wine? Something you’d drink on a Tuesday, which is to say decent enough to drink, but not that $100 bottle of Châteauneuf du pape you have hidden in the cellar.

What if you don’t have a pheasant? Any white meat works. I’ve use grouse of various species, partridges, rabbits, even quail. Wild turkey would be OK, too, as would the aforementioned stewing hen, which if you’re looking are best bought in Latin markets.

This pheasant stew, unlike some of my other recipes on this site, is easy-peasy to make and needs only your time to be wonderful. Be warned: If you are actually using really old chicken roosters, as I’ve done before, they can take a powerful long time to get tender. I once made this with a five-year-old chicken rooster that took nearly 7 hours to get tender. Your pheasant should take about 3 hours.

And keep in mind this is a hearty stew, where the broth is cooked down to make a sort of hybrid broth/sauce. Serve it in shallow bowls.

Serve your coq au vin with a nice red wine, crusty bread, maybe a salad.

pheasant stew in the style of coq au vin
4.90 from 29 votes

Pheasant Stew

This is a simple pheasant stew based on the French coq au vin, which means rooster in wine. Make it on a lazy weekend day in winter. Serve with more wine, lots of crusty bread and a big green salad. 
Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 or 2 whole pheasants, skin-on or skinless
  • 1/3 pound diced bacon
  • 1 pound mushrooms
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thick
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into coins about the thickness of your pinky finger
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled but whole
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced fine
  • 1 bottle decent red wine, something you would drink
  • ½ cup brandy
  • Pheasant or chicken broth


  • Marinate the pheasant in wine, bay leaves, and thyme for a day or two in the refrigerator.
  • When you’re ready to cook, cook the bacon over low heat in a heavy, oven-proof pot, ideally a brazier or a Dutch oven. When it’s crispy, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat up to medium.
  • Pat the pheasant pieces dry and brown them in the bacon fat. Take your time, and do this slowly but surely. It could take 15 minutes. Remove pheasant pieces to a bowl as they brown.
  • Brown the onion and mushrooms. Once they’re just turning color, add the carrots and garlic. Cook another 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir to combine. Cook this, stirring often, until the raw-flour taste cooks away, about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in the brandy, and stir it in to incorporate. The stew will become very thick. Add the wine from the marinade, and stir that in, too. Return the pheasant to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated. If you need it, add enough broth to cover everything by an inch or so. Stir in the herbs and add salt to taste.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for at least 90 minutes, then start checking to see if the leg/thighs are tender. You want them almost to the point of falling off the bone.
  • When the meat is tender, remove it, along with the mushrooms and onions, and put them in a bowl. Put foil over them to keep them warm.
  • Turn heat up to high in the pot. Boil down the liquid by half or until it thickens to the point of being a sauce or loose gravy. I like to put everything through a food mill’s medium plate for a smooth and silky sauce, but that's not strictly necessary. You could strain it to get the loose bits out if you wanted.
  • Return the vegetables and meat to the sauce and serve at once.


Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3625IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

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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Recipe Rating


  1. Had to modify during a snow storm. Made this with chukar breasts. Only had time to marinate for 3hrs and used fresh poultry herbs. Served with biscuits. Flavor was amazing! Will definitely add to our menu & make again!

  2. Sounds delicious! Quick question… when marinating the bird, should I marinade the whole bird or dice it up first?
    Thanks so much – hoping to cook this tomorrow!!

    1. Stephanie: I marinate it in large pieces, like a chicken, then shred the meat later once it’s tender. I would not marinate it diced up, because the surface to area ratio will be off. You could marinate a whole bird, though.

  3. Hank you done good! The only modification I did was used 1/3 a bottle of wine and added mashed potatoes. I wanted to put it on a bed of mashed potatoes but I made them too runny so added them to the stew and it turned out to be gravy stew lol still great!

    Thanks for a great recipe!

  4. I am a city girl married to an avid hunter and fisherman. I was a little nervous about cooking such a delicate little bird but let me tell you, that pheasant was out of this world! I followed your instructions to the letter, used a Cab for the marinade and my stew was flavorful, the pheasant was falling off the bone tender and my husband thinks I’m perfect!!! Thanks for an amazing recipe and helping me overcome my fear of cooking game. I look forward to exploring more of your recipes.

  5. Is this a stew that could be frozen? I am encouraged to take a shot at this recipe. But I am making stew to freeze to carry out to camp with us and serve it over fire.

    1. Mary Beth: No, they never leave the pot. You brown them after the onions. It’s in the instructions. And yes, they are peeled but whole.

  6. Hi Hank, can you please let me know if the wine for marinating is supposed to be de-alcoholed?
    Or am I ok to just pour it right onto the meat out of the bottle and put it in the fridge, first thing?
    Thanks in advance for the help!!

  7. The list of ingredients says “1 or 2 whole pheasants” but then the method says “pat the pheasant pieces dry”. How did we go from whole birds to pieces? Yes, I realise I’m supposed to cut them up at some point (I’m not *that* dumb) but how? Some guidance for novices would be appreciated.

    1. Phil: If you can cut up a chicken, this is exactly the same. And if not, there are lots of “cut up a chicken” videos on the internet.

    1. What wine did you use for this recipe? I’m very interested in trying this and I like wine, but my tastes are more on the dry and bitter side, so “what you might drink for dinner” doesn’t do me much good, no one else likes what I do… Thank you for the review and response! Dave

      1. Dave: Use whatever makes you happy. It really doesn’t matter what I used, and to be honest I can’t remember. But I never use sweet wines, if that helps. It was probably a Merlot or Cab.