Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Pheasant

I grew up in a hunting family, and married into a hunting family, which means that there is always wild game in our freezer.  I, however, am not a huge fan of wild game.  When I was growing up, my dad and older brothers hunted deer every year so we always had deer roasts, steaks and burger.  To me, it doesn't matter how you cook it, the wild, gamey taste never leaves, and that's what I don't like about it.  As a kid, I never had the choice of whether I ate it or not.  It was the main meat of wintertime, and we had it a lot.  As an adult, I choose not to eat deer meat, but I am definitely in the minority.  My husband, children and extended family all love it, and that's fine.  I happily prepare it for them while I have something like a salad or a peanut butter sandwich.  I feel the same way about the wild fowl, too.  I don't like duck or goose.  The meat is too dark on both, and ducks are too fatty.  Both of those things gross me out.  I'm sorry - I hope I'm not offending anyone with my opinions.  They are, after all, just that, my opinions.  I am alone in those, also.  My husband and his family think it is a great treat to have a goose and gravy made from it.  To each their own.  There are a select few wild birds that I will eat:  turkey, pheasant and grouse.  I have only had wild turkey a couple of times, but really enjoyed it.  As for pheasant and grouse, if they are cooked just right, where they become tender and lose some of the gaminess, I will eat them.  I usually dredge pheasant in seasoned flour, brown both sides in a little butter and cook in creamy mushroom gravy in a slow cooker.  I serve it with rice, and it turns out pretty well.  Last year, I fried grouse breasts like you would chicken with an egg wash, followed by flour then a seasoned cracker crust.  They were really good, and everyone liked them.  I admit, I haven't experimented a lot with different recipes, as I am still hesitant about having either one very often.  I have to say, though, this recipe is a game changer.  Say it with me, GAME CHANGER.  The first word is "bacon" so how can you go wrong?  I can honestly say, I don't think I've ever had anything with bacon that I didn't love.

My husband came home from his annual, opening weekend of pheasant hunting trip a month ago, loaded down with birds.  "Great," I thought, "Now, I'll have to think of something to do with them.  Awesome."  Then, I was talking to some friends of mine, and they were telling me about their husbands making pheasant breasts wrapped in bacon.  One said that hers also put pickled jalapeno slices in the center.  That really peaked my interest.  If there was ever going to be anything that made me love pheasant, it would be wrapped in bacon with jalapenos.  I tucked that idea in the back of my head for use at a later time.  This weekend was that time.  Here we are at the opening of deer hunting, so it seemed fitting that our Sunday dinner was pheasant.  Let me tell you this, I'm not sure I will ever fix pheasant any other way again.  It was THAT good!  No gaminess.  Great flavor from the bacon.  A little heat from the jalapeno slices without going over the top.  All kinds of moisture from the marinade, which is very important because pheasant can dry out easily.  I can't wait for you to try this recipe!  Just do me a favor, report back in with your thoughts, especially if you are like me, and never really cared for wild game.

Here's your Cast of Characters for the marinade.

1 Cup plain low-fat Greek Yogurt
1/2 Teaspoon, each, ground coriander seed, Lawry's season salt and pepper
1/4 Teaspoon cumin
1 Teaspoon chili powder
1 Teaspoon, each, lime juice, sugar and minced garlic (not pictured - I forgot it)

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.

Stir well to combine.

It doesn't have a super strong taste but it doesn't need to, with everything else going on with the pheasant.  Set aside for a few minutes.

Here's your Cast of Characters for the Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Pheasant.

1 Lb. of pheasant breasts, about 6
Pickled jalapeno slices
1/2 Lb. bacon (I used peppered bacon and it was phenomenal!)
1/2 Cup shredded cheese (I used a Fiesta Blend with Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla & Asadero cheeses.)
Several toothpicks

Cut each pheasant breast into 2 pieces.

Place in creamy marinade.

Stir well so that all pieces are coated.

Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 2 hours.

When the pheasant is done marinating, preheat oven to 275.  Line a cookie sheet with foil (I use Reynolds non-stick, but you can spray it with non-stick cooking spray instead.)

Cut one package of bacon in half.  Refrigerate one half for use at a later time.  Place cheese and several jalapeno slices in separate dishes, and keep toothpicks close at hand.

Take one pheasant breast, place 2 or 3 jalapenos on it, topped with a pinch of cheese.

Fold over, roll up if you can.

Take one slice of bacon, and roll around the pheasant.  Secure with 1 - 2 toothpicks. 

Set on prepared cookie sheet.  Repeat the process with remaining breasts.

Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.  Then, turn oven to 375, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and brown.

All of that lovely bacon shared its flavor with the pheasant, and it was a match made in Heaven!

Inside is the pop of the jalapeno, and just a hint of cheese!


Served with Green Chile Stuffed Shells (tomorrow's recipe) and Fiesta Garlic Green Beans.

*Note:  You can substitute grouse for the pheasant, or chicken breasts if those aren't available or you simply don't like wild fowl.