Most Game is best after hanging - that is leaving or hanging in cool conditions
before plucking or skinning. This should be for a minimum two days to
a maximum of three weeks in winter. I would tend to settle on seven days
provided the weather is not hot. Game tends to be tougher than other meat
or poultry as the animals were wild and muscles were used more in the
process of survival. Hanging will help tenderise the meat and develop
a characteristic gamey flavour. This is caused by enzymic and bacterial
action. The longer you hang it the stronger the flavour.
The easiest way to prepare a pheasant is to skin it. After hanging seperate the feathers along the back of the bird and cut the skin along its length, lift and pull it off feather and all.
The disadvantage of this method is that you are left with a skinless bird -ie not suitable for roasting without coating with fat/ bacon to prevent drying out - but it does avoid the messiness of plucking - the feathers get every where!
1 Dip your hands in water
2 start plucking from the breast working towards the neck pulling the feathers in the direction they grow so that the skin does not break.
3 Turn the bird around and pluck away from you
4. Cut through the middle wing joint to remove it : Stretch out the wings
and and pluck the feathers
5. Pull out leg and tail feathers
6. The small pin feather along the back bone are best removede by tweezers.
NOTE: If the feathers are too hard to remove you can immerse the bird
in boiled water off the heat for 30 seconds - though the bird must then
be cooked immediately
Having hung and plucked or skinned the bird/s the next stage is to draw
it, namely to remove the innards.
The object of this exercise is to attempt to remove the intestinal sack
the neck & head
you have plucked the bird place the bird on its back and cut along the
neck skin the the point where it joins the body. Leaving plenty of skin
to cover the neck cut through the neck of the bird removing it and the
out the gullet, crop and windpipe, insert a finger and loosen rotate it
gently to break all attachments and free organs particularly the lungs.
a sharp knife cut through the skin around the vent (anus) of the bird
until it comes loose. Insert your fingers into the body cavity and draw
out the innards. With practice you can pull them out in one, at first
attempt you may need to scrape around a bit.
and dry the body cavity and salt it.
The liver minus the green gall bladder can be kept and eaten
Game birds are traditionally served rare with the breast pink and juicy,
the legs are always rather chewy and can be reserved for stewing. You
may want to marinate the bird to help tenderise in red or white wine although
this will alter the flavour.
Barding - covering the breast with a sheet of pork fat or bacon
and tying it on helps retain moisture.
- trussing or tying the bird helps keeps it shape and provides for more
Roast at around 200ºC-230ºC 400-450ºF Gas 6-8 allowing 12- 15 minutes
per 500g/1 lb for rare - 20 minutes for well done.
Traditionally wild birds are hung before
plucking, drawing and cleaning ie innards still intact. They are
suspended by the neck in a cool, airy place, to tenderise the meat
and develop flavor as the deterioration process begins. Opinions
vary on how long to hang a bird or whether to hang game at all.
Hanging time depends on the weather - pheasant can be hung for up
to three weeks in cold weather but if its is warm two or three days
When drawing the bird care should be taken to prevent the intestinal sack splitting and the cavity should be thoroughly washed and dried prior to cooking.
Sources: Advanced Practical
Cookery: Ceserani, Kinton and Foskett and La Varenne: Complete
Guide to Cookery
Nowadays Hygiene concerns give guidance that Game wounded in the belly or damaged by lead shot should never be hung as it will rot very quickly, furthermore large game is now often drawn as quickly as possible.
Source: Larouse Gastronomique
- The object is to help tenderise and
flavor, removing the innards will give a milder flavour when hanging
and is safer.
- A young bird will need less hanging
than an old one.
- Storage in a cold place is safer.
- Slow cooking will tenderise the meat
and reduce the need for hanging but may dry out the breast a bit
but you can make a great gamey sauce to compensate for this!
Other Pheasant Recipes