Grilled Pheasant Kabobs

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most popular grilling days of the year. In fact, it’s the seventh largest. And to top it off, it is the biggest outdoor cooking day of the winter months.

What’s the best part of grilling on Super Bowl Sunday? You can prepare most of the food in advance.

Appetizers are a perfect example of this school of thought, and for the big game Feb. 3, consider Pheasant Kabobs.

The following recipe, from MacFarlane Pheasants (located in Janesville, Wis.), the largest pheasant farm in North America, will provide some tasty eating at game time.

If you’re not a hunter and don’t have access to your own birds, whole pheasants and variety of pheasant breasts and strips are available at MacFarlane’s online retail store (www.pheasantfordinner.com) with convenient shipping coast-to-coast via UPS.

And that’s not to mention several recipes for entrees, soups, salads and more.

Grilled Pheasant Kabobs
1 to 1½ pounds pheasant breast cut into strips
1 4-ounce jar jalapeno peppers
12 slices bacon, cut into thirds
6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water
Cut pheasant breast into 36 pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Pour the juice from the jalapeno peppers over the pheasant and marinade for 20 minutes.
Preheat grill for medium heat; lightly oil the grate Drain the marinade from the pheasant. Place a slice of the jalapeno pepper onto each piece of pheasant breast, wrap with a bacon strip and slide onto skewer. Place 4 to 6 wraps on each skewer. Place kabobs on the grill, turning frequently for 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Remove skewers from the grill. Plate and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 9.
Note: If using an oven, turn on the broiler; place skewers on baking pan. Keep pan 6 inches away from the heat source to avoid cooking too quickly. Broil each side for 10 minutes, or until bacon is crispy; turn and broil 10 additional minutes. Remove skewers from oven, plate and serve immediately.

Blazin’ Buffalo Potato Skins

Buffalo wings, hot wings and such are all the rage these days. While it’s a matter of opinion how the they got their start, buffalo or hot wings are one of the most popular bar foods and appetizers in the U.S.

Typically, classic buffalo-style chicken wings are coated  in a sauce composed of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter. They then are dipped in a dressing such as ranch or blue cheese.

Here’s another take on the food, using potatoes instead of chicken. These Blazin’ Buffalo Potato Skins will certainly bring the heat and are sure to be a hit at any holiday party.

Blazin’ Buffalo Potato Skins
3 pounds. small russet potatoes
Olive oil cooking spray
1 cup shredded reduced-fat or regular Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
¼ cup buffalo wing sauce
½ cup crushed Blue Diamond Sea Salt Nut Chips
1/3 cup chopped Blue Diamond Blazin’ Buffalo Wing Almonds
¼ cup sliced green onion tops
½ cup light sour cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Rinse potatoes and pat dry; pierce with a fork or sharp knife. Place in a large microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft when gently squeezed. Remove and let cool slightly. Cut in half and scoop out potato leaving a ¼-inch rim of potato inside the skin. Place on prepared baking sheet and spray both sides of potato skins liberally with cooking spray; bake for 15 minutes to crisp. Sprinkle equal amounts of cheese into each skin. Stir together chicken and wing sauce and spoon over cheese. Top with nut chips and almonds and bake for 5 minutes more. Add a dollop of sour cream to each and sprinkle with green onions. Serve with and additional wing sauce, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as appetizer.

Pheasant Nachos

Anyone who regularly hosts holiday parties knows that you can’t have too many good recipes for appetizers. Tasty appetizers can really jazz up a party and set the tone for the rest of the night.

I subscribe to that philosophy. In fact, I’d rather graze at an appetizer table than eat a main course at a party.

Appetizers have been on my mind lately. And I can thank Nancy Klatt for that.

Nancy, who works for Altru Health System, is weekend regular at Altru’s Fitness Center, where I work out. She mentioned to me that she and her husband, Al, had tried a recipe of mine for Southwestern Pheasant Soup and that they really liked it.

During the course of the conversation, she said Al had a good recipe for pheasant nachos. I said the recipe sounded pretty good and asked if Al would mind sharing it.

Later that day, Al sent me the recipe via email. He said the recipe is very good and has been a hit with anyone who has ever tried it. He added, “It makes a fantastic appetizer, and anything with bacon and onions in it is going to be good.”

Here’s the recipe, which I hope to try soon. My mouth already is watering.

Pheasant Nachos
½ pound bacon
1 large onion
4 pheasant breasts (or chicken breasts)
1/3 bottle Zesty Italian dressing
Scoop tortilla chips
Grated cheese
Salsa of your choice
Chop bacon, onion and pheasant into 1/3-by-1/3-inch pieces.
In large fry pan, cook bacon and onions over medium high heat. When about half done, add pheasant and Zesty Italian dressing.
Cook until all ingredients are done and dressing is reduced.
Lay out Scoop tortilla chips on either microwave-safe plates or a cookie sheet. Scoop ingredients into tortilla chips. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
If on plates, put into microwave until cheese melts. If on cookie sheet, put in oven and broil just until cheese melts.
Spoon on your favorite salsa and enjoy.
Note: Bacon will slice easier if it is half-frozen.

Glazed Roast Pheasant

There’s more than one way to cook a goose, the old saying goes. The same could  be  true for just about any kind of fowl — wild or domestic — including pheasant.

I got to thinking about this after looking at a recipe that was shared recently by Facebook friend Jeni Flaa, an HR assistant, food blogger and writer,  who lives in Fargo. The recipe was for pheasant, which was roasted with its skin on and glazed with a prickly pear sauce.

I’ve cooked a lot of pheasant over the past 20 years but never once did one that hadn’t been skinned. That’s because I figured it would take too long and be too much work to pluck a bird.

But after looking over the recipe from Jeni, I’ve decided to give the method a chance. (My brother-in-law, Dean Lutz, would approve. I’ve seen him pluck a number of pheasants when we’ve hunted together.) And actually, I’m quite enthused about the prospects.

Roasting, for the cooking novice, is a method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven or other heat source. I’ve known from roasting other types of meat (most notably chicken) that it can enhance flavor through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food.

Here’s Jeni’s recipe, if you also would like to try it.

Glazed Roast Pheasant
1 pheasant, plucked with skin on
¼ cup kosher salt
4 cups water
¼ cup prickly pear syrup, or any other syrup
1 large sprig of sage (optional)
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
Ground black pepper
Mix the salt and water together and whisk to dissolve the salt. When it is dissolved, pour it over the pheasant in a plastic or ceramic container, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours. Remove the pheasant and pat it dry. Let it rest on a cutting board while you preheat the oven to 450 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Put the sprig of sage into the pheasant’s cavity and dust the pheasant with cayenne pepper. Place the bird breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan. If you don’t have a proper rack, rig something up with halved onions, carrots or the like. I arrange potatoes around the pheasant, which serve as a good side dish.
Roast the pheasant for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then drop the heat to 375 and roast for another 20 minutes. Turn the pheasant breast side up and baste with the syrup. Roast for another 30 to 40 minutes, basting twice in the first 20 minutes. Keep watching the glaze and remove the pheasant immediately if it burns too much — expect some burning at the edges of the legs and wings.
When the pheasant is done (thigh should be 160 degrees when poked with a thermometer), remove to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Don’t mess with it for 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, carve the bird and grind some black pepper over it.
Yield: Serves 2.

Pheasant Barley Soup

Hunting season is in full swing, and nothing tastes better than freshly harvested game. And just back from a successful four-day pheasant hunting trip to western North Dakota, I had my eyes set on some homemade soup.

So, after the final cleanup on a dozen pheasants and the freezing of the legs, thighs and breasts in vacuum-sealed bags, I started the process of making some pheasant barley soup.

First, I used the backbones and necks to make a broth for a pheasant barley soup. Next, I took the meat off the bones, placed them back in the pot and added the remaining ingredients, all of which we had on hand, including carrots, onions, tomatoes and cabbage from our garden.

The result was nothing short of mouth-watering. A slice or two of Cheddar cheese with a couple of homemade biscuits completed the meal.

Pheasant Barley Soup
2 cups pheasant, cut up (see note)
1 onion diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced thinly
½ cup pearled barley
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup chopped cabbage
12 cups water
1 cup peas (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook raw pheasant in water for 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 hours.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.
Note: I used a dozen backbones and necks from recently harvested pheasants.

Pheasant Stew

Just about every culture has its own version of hunter’s stew. In Poland, it’s called bigos. If you travel to France’s Alsace’s region, it might be called choucroute garnie. A German might say Jager-Eintopf. And Vadas Hus is what it’s known as in Hungary.

Regardless of what it’s called, hunter’s stew  is a dish that’s been around as long as humans have been pursuing wild game. And that’s a long time.

Today, hunter’s stew is just as popular as it was back in the Stone Age and beyond. Perhaps it’s because it’s so tasty.

Many a time have I overheard people in this neck of the woods talking about their culinary exploits with entrees such as venison stew.

We often have stews that feature the meat of wild animals such as deer, elk and bison. Most recently, I threw together a pheasant stew recipe for an upcoming hunting trip to Colorado. I used about a dozen legs and thighs from some frozen ringnecks that were harvested last fall that needed to be eaten before the upcoming season.

The stew recipe, which follows, has a couple of twists. It calls for a cup of spicy tomato salsa as well as a can of whole-kernel corn.

Pheasant Stew
3 14 ounce-cans chicken broth
½ pounds pheasants
1 cup onion, diced
1½ cups potatoes, diced to ½- to ¾-inch
1 cup celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 14- to 15-ounce can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup spicy tomato salsa
1 3- to 3½-ounce can green chilies, chopped, do not drain
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Remove all skin and any visible fat before cooking.
Bring the broth to a boil in a 4½- to 5-quart Dutch oven. Add pheasant, onion, celery, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 60 minutes or until pheasant is tender.
Remove pheasant with slotted spoon. Let cool.
Add potatoes, carrots, corn, tomato sauce, salsa, undrained chilies, and cilantro to Dutch oven. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender.
Cut pheasant from the bones and add to the stew.
This can be thickened and dumplings put on top for a main dish.
Note: I substituted pheasant broth for chicken broth.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 384 calories, 30 percent of calories from fat, 12.8 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated), 80.5 milligrams cholesterol, 1,817.3 milligrams sodium, 33.8 grams carbohydrates, 5.7 grams dietary fiber, 9.7 grams sugars, 35 grams protein.

Pheasant Noodle Soup

Soup is hard to beat when the weather starts to get cold. And that’s what happens as summer turns into fall, and the days keep getting shorter and the nights longer.

One of my favorite soups to make this time of the year is pheasant noodle soup. It’s especially tasty with carrots fresh from the garden and homemade egg noodles — the German type from South Dakota — courtesy of a co-worker and friend Paulette Tobin. (I trade homemade sauerkraut for the noodles.)

Another ingredient that I really sets the soup apart from traditional noodle soups is ground savory, which we’ve really come to enjoy.

I had a hankering from the soup the other day and just happened to have some of the noodles in the cupboard,a big bag carrots and a half-dozen cooked pheasant legs — along with some broth in the refrigerator.

Pheasant Noodle Soup
6 pheasant legs (minus thighs), cleaned well and skinned
8 to 12 cups water (depending on how thick you want soup)
3 teaspoons salt
3 celery ribs, diced
onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons ground savory
1 8-ounce package egg noodles
1 cup frozen peas
Put pheasant legs in large kettle and cover with water.
Add salt and cover. Cook until pheasant is done.
Remove pheasant, debone and put meat back in kettle.
Add remaining ingredients except noodles. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add noodles. Cover and cook till noodles are soft.
Note: This is also good with chicken instead of pheasant.
Yield: Serves 6.

Pheasant with Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

Poultry cooked in a butter and wine sauce can make a flavorful dish. Add some mushrooms and onion, and you have something really special. I discovered that firsthand the other night.

I tried the following recipe with some of our last wild pheasant from the 2011 hunting season in dish that was so simple to make and so doggone tasty that it certainly will become a  regular at our dining room table.

Paired with a baked potato, sliced cucumbers in cider vinegar and some garden-fresh steamed carrots, it was a meal that I’ll not soon forget.

Pheasant with Mushrooms in Wine Sauce
3 pheasants, split
½ cup butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Saute pheasants in butter 10 minutes.
Remove from skillet and saute mushrooms in butter remaining in skillet 10 minutes Return pheasant to skillet.
Add wine, lemon juice, onions, salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer 1 hour or until tender.
Yield: Serves 6.
Note: If oven is used, bake at 375 degrees for about 2 hours.

Pesto-Marinated Chicken (or Pheasant) and Vegetable Kabobs

Labor Day is the last time a lot of people pull out the grill for the season. For many, it symbolizes the end of summer, since school has started or very soon will be under way.

I used to be one of those people. In fact, there were quite a few years when I didn’t even own a grill.

It’s a different story now. We grill three or four times a month during the summer. Most of the time, it’s fish, elk burgers or sausage or some other wild game that we need to use before the new seasons begin.

One of my favorite things to grill is marinated pheasant breasts and thighs. I usually use my old standby marinade but sometimes like to try store-bought versions. Recently, I used a herb and white wine marinade from Lawry’s with salmon.

Here’s a kebab recipe that makes use of a marinade. It’s adapted from one supplied by Weber, the grilling people. I plan on trying it this Labor Day with some pheasant. Not only do you marinade the meat but also vegetables. I can’t wait to try it!

Pesto-Marinated Chicken (or Pheasant) and Vegetable  Kabobs
½ cup  dry white wine
¼ cup  extra virgin olive oil
1 package  Weber Tomato Garlic Pesto Marinade Mix
4  (6 to 8 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2  medium yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
16  small cherry or grape tomatoes, stemmed
2  small zucchini, cut into chunks
2  small summer squash, cut into chunks
1 small eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into bite-size chunks
Red onion, quartered, separated (use outer sections only)
Place a large, resealable plastic bag in a bowl. In the bag mix the wine, oil, and Weber Italian Herb Marinade.
Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise and then cut each half into equal-size pieces, about 1½ inches each. Add the chicken and vegetables. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, turning the bag once or twice.
Pour the contents of the bag onto a rimmed platter or sheet pan. Thread the chicken pieces with the vegetables onto 8 to 10 metal skewers, alternating the ingredients. Discard the marinade.
Grill the kabobs over Direct Medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice. Serve warm.

Stir-Fried Pheasant with Brown Rice

Spring cleanup is an annual rite in many cities. Citizens can throw away items they no longer need, and public works crews pick them up on a designated week.

In our household, it’s also time to go through four freezers, so we can consolidate their contents in half the space. Often, that requires digging out some food to prepare immediately. Wild game fits that category.

Being an upland bird hunter, I usually have a good supply of grouse, partridge and pheasants after the fall season. We usually don’t get through all of the birds by the time spring arrives, so they are some of the food that’s taken out of the freezer in the spring for immediate use around cleanup time.

Yesterday, I used a few of my last pheasants from the 2011 season in a classic stir-fry. Along with some mushrooms, onion and sweet red bell pepper, I prepared them on the stove top in a large wok. I served them over cooked brown rice, along with a spinach salad.

If you’re looking for a meal that is quick and easy to make, give the following recipe a try.

Stir-Fried Pheasant with Brown Rice
1½ pounds pheasant breast cut into ½-inch strips
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
1 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon teriyaki marinade sauce
1 low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup Vidalia onion, sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup brown rice
1 teaspoon salt
Prepare brown rice according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat sesame and olive oil in wok or skillet over medium-high. Add chicken, leaving any liquid on the plate. Stir-fry 3 minutes. Add vegetables and stir-fry 2 minutes.
Mix cornstarch and water. Add to wok or skillet. Continue cooking mixture until thickens.
Serve over rice.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Chicken could be substituted for the pheasant.