Cooking Wild Game for Thanksgiving

If the best part of being a hunter is the thrill of the chase and being out in the field doing what you love, then the second best part is definitely getting to take your game home and cook it up in some delicious meals. With Thanksgiving just a day away we thought we would help out our fellow sportsmen by providing some tips and tricks on how to do just that. November is the heart of hunting season here in Colorado, so we thought that it would be a good idea to share some of our favorite wild game recipes for pheasant, duck, and most importantly turkey. If you haven’t made it out on a hunt yet this year, fear not! These recipes work perfectly for not only adding unique spin to your thanksgiving feast this year, but any meal where you feel like shaking things up a bit in the weeks to come. So settle in, get your oven fired up, and get ready to wow your guests this thanksgiving, cause the train to flavor town is leaving the station. All aboard!

Wild Pheasant in Mushroom Wine Sauce

This is definitely one to save for the cookbook, especially if you’re an avid pheasant hunter. The gamey flavor of the bird pairs perfectly with the robust and earthy tones of the mushrooms and wine. Trust us when we say you’ll be making this wild game recipe more than once.

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 Whole skinless legs and skinless breast of Pheasant., 2 of each-legs and breast.
    • 4 Tablespoons butter-divided
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive Oil
    • 3/4 Cup whole pearl onions, Or 1/2 diced yellow onions
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 5 or 6 whole Shiitake mushrooms , roughly cut
    • 1 pint Crimini mushrooms (Or white), Sliced
    • 1/2 oz. about 1/2 Cup volume wt. Dried Lobster Homard mushrooms or 5 fresh Chantrell, chopped or sliced
    • 1 oz. about 1/2 Cup dried Porcini Mushrooms, chopped
    • 1 Cup White wine (I used Sauvignon blanc)
    • 1 Cup chicken broth
    • 1/3 Cup fresh curly leaf parsley , finely chopped
    • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch 2 Tablespoons water
    • 2 Tablespoons Water
    • 1 tsp. salt , as needed to rub the meat
    • 1 tsp. pepper, as needed to rub the meat
  • Prepare the Pheasant:
    • Cut the bird from neck to bottom or it’s ribs (AVOID cutting into the bowel or stomach). Pull the skin apart.
    • Cut off the breasts (breast out the bird).
    • Cut off the skin around the leg from the hip joint. Remove the legs at the hip joint.
    • Remove remaining feathers from breasts and legs.
    • Rinse and pat dry.
  • Directions:
    • Preheat a dutch oven (OR cast iron combo skillet or other heavy bottom skillet) on your stove to medium heat.
    • salt and pepper all sides of the meat.
    • Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • Add 2 Tablespoons butter and stir until melted.
    • Put in the pheasant legs first and sear two minutes on each sides. After one minute add the Pheasant breasts. WATCH them. It’s easy to overcook the breasts. Just sear until lightly brown but NOT cooked. (about 2 or three minutes) Scrape pan and stir in the bits.
    • Remove the pheasant from pan and set aside.
    • Add the remaining butter. When butter is melted add in the mushrooms. Stir occasionally and cook 5 minutes, covered, until partially cooked.
    • Add onions and garlic. Stir together with partially cooked mushrooms.
    • Turn the heat to high and Add the wine. Reduce the wine by half.
    • Reduce heat to medium high.
    • Add chicken broth, breasts and legs and cover them.
    • Reduce heat to simmer. Cook 20 minutes until pheasant is done. (Check a leg)
    • Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the sauce thickens.
    • Add fresh parsley until wilted.
    • Serve from pot.

Whole Roast Wild Duck

Now this wild game recipe is deceptively simple, but boy howdy does it really let the exquisite flavor of the duck shine through. In our experience wild ducks always taste better than those raised in captivity, so it’s best to do your part and go out and bag the birds yourself. Another crucial thing to remember is that duck is meant to be served rare as over cooking it can ruin the flavor and make the meat taste like liver.

  • Ingredients:
    • One wild duck, plucked and dressed whole
    • Two celery sticks and/or carrots
    • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Directions:
    • Preheat oven to 450 or 500 degrees.
    • Pat the bird dry with a paper towel and salt the duck’s skin.
    • Brown the duck in a cast iron pan over medium heat, preferably using duck fat, but oil will do. Use tongs to turn it so it browns on all sides. This will take a few minutes to get that golden brown that drives your tastebuds mad.
    • Turn off the burner, lift the duck with the tongs, then set two celery stalks or carrots underneath it in the pan. Rest the browned duck on them, breast side up.
    • Pop the whole shebang into the oven for at least 10 minutes for a small bird such as teal, more for a bigger bird.
    • Start checking the bird after 10 minutes (more for larger birds) by inserting a meat thermometer into the breast. When it hits 135 degrees, pull it out of the oven.
    • Set the bird on a cutting board and cover it with a tent made of aluminum foil. Let it rest for at least five minutes. (This will raise the temperature to about 145, which makes the food nazis much happier.)
    • For small birds like teal, serve whole. Larger birds, such as mallard and pintail, can be cut in half (you could use a cleaver or kitchen shears) and will serve two.
    • Serve with your favorite side dish or salad. Hint: You’ll be grateful if you have bread or another starchy item to soak up the juices.

Roasted Wild Turkey

Finally, la pièce de résistance! Here is an excellent wild turkey recipe truly worthy of gracing your thanksgiving table. As an added bonus, once the bird is fully prepared, the instructions are quite simple; the definition of set it and forget it! This recipe doesn’t rely on cheap tricks to enhance the meal, and helps to let the natural flavors of the turkey be the star of the show, making it perfect for wild game.

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 wild turkey (10 to 15 pounds)
    • 2 large apples, quartered
    • 6 to 8 medium red potatoes, quartered
    • 2 pound baby carrots
    • 2 medium onions, sliced
    • 2 cups water
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup French salad dressing
    • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
    • 2 tablespoons ketchup
    • 2 tablespoons steak sauce
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Directions:
    • Preheat oven to 325°. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan; place apples in turkey cavity. Place potatoes, carrots and onions around turkey. Pour water over vegetables. Combine seasoned salt, salt and pepper; rub over turkey. Combine remaining ingredients; spoon over the turkey.
    • Cover and bake until a thermometer reads 170°, 3-1/2 hours, basting occasionally if desired. Turkey may be uncovered for the last 30 minutes for additional browning if desired.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about cooking wild game, and if you decide to try any of them out please post your results to social media and tag us! At Longmeadow Game Resort we strive to provide our loyal patrons with unforgettable hunting experiences, as well as the knowledge to share said experiences with their families. Give us a call today to book your next hunt, and we guarantee you leave with a smile on your face. Happy thanksgiving!

A special thanks to the folks over at Home Food Junkie, Delta Waterfowl, and Taste of Home!

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