October; it has to be smoked game and the pheasants were calling out to me from the butcher’s window writes Sandra Tate…
I have to say I was spoiled for choice what with there being teal, mallard, pigeon and grouse there too but I prefer to smoke a bigger bird, less chance of drying out the meat. These two were plump male birds with almost no shot damage.
Find a snug container to cure the bird in before smoking. Now prepare a brine by adding enough boiling water to 50g sea salt and 25g unrefined sugar to be able to fully immerse the birds. Allow it to cool completely before doing so. Leave for 1 hour then rinse thoroughly and pat completely dry inside and out with kitchen paper.
Set the Bradley Smoker cabinet temperature to 240°F/115°C and add a dozen apple wood bisquettes to the stack. Once up to temperature sit the pheasant on a wire rack and place in the middle of the cabinet with the top vent half open. Smoke until the internal temp at the joint of the leg and thickest part of the breast have reached a temperature of 72°C – this took 2½ hours for mine but it depends on the size of the birds. Remove and allow to cool.
I find that pheasant has a lovely affinity with earthy flavours and so served mine at room temperature with warm black lentils that I cooked to tender and then mixed with some toasted cumin seed, some chopped cob nuts, seasoning and flat leaf parsley. Add a few drops of hazelnut oil around the plate and serve as a beautiful Autumn lunch or starter.