Though pellet grills are the trendy way to prepare many types of meat nowadays, you can successfully smoke a delicious pheasant with any grill and some balanced spice rubs
Yes, I know the first thought that pops into the head of those who don’t own a pellet grill: “Oh great—I can’t make this recipe.” Incorrect, friend. You can make this smoked pheasant with a variety of grills (I’ll explain how).
“Pellet Grill Pheasant” just had a nice ring to it, and it would seem these days pellet grills are trendier than German shorthaired pointers. So by popular demand, right?
For many years I did everything on a charcoal stainless-steel grate Weber. Anytime you use charcoal, I’d implore you to never use lighter fluid to start your coals. The main reason: if not burned off properly (and it rarely burns off properly), lighter fluid fumes can get absorbed by your grill grate and leach into your food. Use a chimney starter or electric starter instead.
If wishing to smoke using a charcoal grill, you can use the snake method or what I would do for years was soak wood chips half hour prior to smoking and just sprinkle them over charcoal. I used a chimney starter and barely grayed my coals, then dropped the coals into the grill and put damp wood chips overtop. I managed my vents diligently and would remove the grate every hour to add fresh chips, potentially a handful of unlit coals.
If running a propane grill, you can invest in smoker boxes to make this type of cooking possible.
In terms of recipe instructions, however you choose to smoke your pheasant is up to you, but the temp and smoking times will remain the same (180 for 1 hour, 275 for 30-45 minutes). Make sure to read further details below.
A spice rub is essentially a dry brine and should be treated as such. Similar to a wet brine, salt in the mix penetrates meat and adheres to muscle fibers, helping decrease moisture loss during cooking by upwards of 50 percent. A properly applied rub will be done at least a couple hours ahead of time so the salt has time to do its thing.
With a dry brine, salt on the exterior of meat absorbs moisture from the meat, which dissolves the salt into sodium and chloride ions. It’s fancy science talk, but the bottom line, not only does salt help retain moisture during cooking, it also enhances your tastebuds. Per FineCooking.Com: “Sodium ions zero in on bitter flavor compounds and suppress them, making the sweet flavors seem stronger.”
Chemistry is playing out on your palate, enriching the taste profile of what you’re eating.
Not only should your smoking spice rub of choice contain salt, it should contain sugar, as sugar both forms a pellicle to which smoke can adhere and helps caramelize the meat while cooking, creating a delicious, crispy crust. So pick a spice blend with a solid array of overall flavor, but most importantly the right balance of salt and sugar.
Enjoy! Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments and be sure to check out my other wild game recipes and cooking instructions here.
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