My first smoking journey started on Monday night.
I decided to smoke some pheasants. I did some research and read that pheasant can be pretty tough to do, but I figured heck, I had a good time hunting them and I'd rather have them not turn out well than something I paid good money for at the store.
So I found a recipe for brine on the internet (I'll post at the end) and put them in the brine Monday night, with plans to smoke them on Tuesday. Well Tuesday rolled around and my new bow was set up so I HAD to go shoot it at the indoor range. So I took the pheasant out of the brine when I got home on Tuesday, put them in a container and left it outside (no room in the fridge with the holiday leftovers.)
I have a cabelas 7 in 1 smoker/cooker and after some research figured I'd line the wood tray with tinfoil to help prevent flare up, then fired up the smoker, this worked excellent. The smoker's temp gauge got up to about 200 and I put some wood chips in and put the pheasant on the grill. Well about an hour later my Maverick ET-73 remote thermometer showed up via UPS, so I put that on there. After putting on the temp gauges (one for the smoker and one for inside the meat) It showed my smoker temp at about 250 (this is after having the cover off to put the probes in.) At this point the temp gauge on the smoker read 165. So as others have stated the temp gauge that came with the smoker isn't worth a
$*!#. Backed the temp down and kept it between 225 and 235.
Here's the crazy thing about the remote sensor. I read some reviews and some had said that it wouldn't work very far away, and I had that problem. It wouldn't even work 10 feet away on my deck. I was inside getting mad because it wouldn't receive a signal just sitting there on my coffee table. At one point I picked it up and it started receiving the signal. Set it back down...no signal. I realized that if I held it or had it clipped to my pocket it would pick up the signal, it was like I was working as the antenae. Crazy Huh? Well no big deal, just had it clipped to me and it worked fine.
After about 3 hrs the internal temp of the pheasant breast was only 141. The outside was dark and looked crisp. I figured I'd better check it and it looked done inside. I figured maybe I had the probe against the bone.
Tried a taste and it was delicious and moist. The ultimate test was my girlfriend who is a finicky game eater. SHE LOVED IT!! I realized that I kind of made pheasant like you do "blackened checken" (dark outside and moist and smokey tasting inside.)
A couple of lessons learned (or solidified): Don't trust the temp gauge get a good remote one. Gotta let the meat "rest" or warm up before putting it into smoker. (It was colder outside where I had my birds than I expected.)
I will post some Q-View of the "blackened pheasant" tonight.
Here's the brine recipe I used:
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 gallons water
Combine the orange juice concentrate, orange slices, lemon slices, lime slices, thyme, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and water in a large stockpot; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Wash and dry your bird(s). Make sure you have removed the innards. Place breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator. Allow to marinate 1 to 2 days before cooking. Remove meat carefully. Drain and discard the excess brine and pat dry.