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newbie pheasant smoking

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi - first time smoking anything..!
brining a couple pheasants right now to put into a big chief electric smoker handmedown. the luhr jensen instructions talk about brining the birds for 6 hours, then smoking for 2 hours, then cook in oven to finish..

well, any suggestions out there for
a) how long to smoke - it's cool outside, so temps will not be what "the book" assumes, and
b) anything particular to consider or recommendations for final cooking?

for final cooking, i'm right now just assuming to seal up in foil with some butter and.. not yet sure what else, and bake for an hour at 375 or so.. i want cold snack pheasant.. not aiming for hot roasted pheasant for dinner, and not going too gourmand.. want to find what the "smoked pheasant" tastes like, not smoked "pheasant in a brie and pineapple soy chutney" or some other exotic taste treat.

but please, bring on the pheasant suggestions! even if it does involve brie or pineapple... biggrin.gif

post #2 of 14
Welcome to the SMF! Head over to the Roll Call section and introduce yourself to everyone!

I haven't ever had pheasant so I better not give any advice. I'd hate for you to be cursing me out while you head to KFC cause I steered you wrong!
post #3 of 14
Welcome to SMF...

As far as pheasants go, you can use the search tab at the top of the page. Here is a link to some advice...

post #4 of 14
for slow smoked & reheated later- i'd say 250-275 until internal temp is 170-180. long as the juice runs clear- as w/ all poultry. maybe wrap & stuff w/ bacon & baste late w/ butter(not to scorch w/ a too high heat.) try smoking some stuffing w/ it on the side the last 45 mins.
post #5 of 14
Hello there, and glad that you have chosen to be part of the SMF. You'll have plenty of replies regarding pheasants, we have many hunters onboard. I'm looking forward to your Q Views, whenever you get the chance. Have a great week my new friend.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks - i've checked that. found very little in the way of pheasant technique - though i am heartened by Sasquatch's enthusiam for smoked pheasant! :-) I don't think my electric smoker will get up to the temps suggested in what i found, and so i expect i still need to bring temp up to "done" in an oven afterward.. but would love any comment on better to do so at 200' for an hour so at 350' for 30 min or..?

right now is smoking away on first pan of chips.. had to rewire my garage to get rid of the ---!!!--- GFI outlet that was inline as smoker kept tripping it..so getting started a bit later than i had hoped (i'll be smoking till midnight--west coast)..THEN putting in oven!

or do i need less (significantly) time as i'm only at about 1/3 capacity for this smoker?
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
thank you chipotle dude Richoso1 and ajthepoolman for the welcome!
post #8 of 14
do you have an oven thermo for a grate temp or a good digital thermo ???
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 


thanks - i'll be probing with my thermometer.. i won't be getting this fancy this time, but not clear on "reheating"..? immediate plan is for a 1.5-2 hour smoke, then directly into over (sealed in foil, with butter.. or is bacon better? both?) to "finish" ensuring inside temp reaches 165' or better for ... as little time as possible? a few minutes? 20 minutes? ... then out and after all cools, in the fridge for next coouple days cold meat treats..

the two pheasants are each quartered. hoping will have "pull apart" meat when all done.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

target temperature

yes! what target temps should i be aware of?
post #11 of 14
i'd go between 250-300 grate & 170 internal temp on the bird.if you want a crispy skin go for 300-325 grate temp. i read your 1st post again- that should give yo a great smoked flavor,keep it moist, & a nice color. also great for cold cutting tomorrow too.
post #12 of 14

First, welcome to the site. I know you will enjoy your time here.

I have used both the Little and Big Chief smokers. Some put them down, but I grew up with them and they can do a good job for most things. Don't know if you have Little or Big. But, Little is set to around 160-165F. That is about the best you will get out of it even in good weather. The big is set higher. I still have one of each. Use the Little for fish because it is right in the range I like.

I have done a lot of Pheasant. Been very happy with them. Took a little while to come to grips with their tendency to dry out during the process. I am sure that this is because those little buggers are very lean and mostly dark meat. The brining will go a long way to hold in moisture and injecting them is another way to ensure moist results. I love the Pheasant flavor so don't like to influence it too much with additional ingredients. I like chicken or vegetable bullion. It adds the moisture without overpowering the flavor.

Gypsy's second post has it about dead on. His suggestion of bacon will also help, I just don't do it because although I love bacon on most things, don't want to influence the Pheasant.

Also, don't know about you, but I will eat crispy skin on a bird, if it is 'hot'. But for next day, cold snacking, the skin is not appealing to me. For this reason I would not worry about getting to the 300+F range. I go lower and longer. Not necessary for chicken but seems to help on Pheasant. On cold snacks I peel off the skin anyway. Cold skin just does not cut it for me.

By the time you get this, it will be too late for this smoke but something you might want to consider for next time.

Good luck and nice to have you on board.

post #13 of 14
This may be late, but it works for me. After brining, I brush 'em with bacon grease inside and out, and mop with a butter/herb/apple juice mop. Take 'em to about 170, foil and cool, or if serving, into oven foiled for a short time at 300. Maybe 15 min. Pinch the breast, if it flakes it's done for fall off bone consumption :{)
If ya freeze, it'll take maybe 30 Min in oven after defrost.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 


well the job took longer than i had anticipated (as i said before, had to rewire a socket in the garage, etc!) but it all worked out!

what i did - reduced to my ultimate newbie level-- icon_lol.gif

used two pheasants, no skin, quartered (8 pieces)

1/ thaw : took pheasants out of freezer day before, thawed in fridge 24 hours.

2/ brine : followed instructions in the Big Chief Smoker booklet for the brine. used their "Easy cure" brine.. 1 qt water with 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar (i used ordinary white refined sugar). put the (skinned) pheasant quarters into the brine and put all that into the fridge for 6 hours. put a healthy sprinkling of garlic powder into brine as well.

3/ air dry : after brining, put the pieces on a plate after patting dry and left for 1 hour on the counter (while i sorted out the wiring issue!)

4/ smoking : birds occupied two racks which i placed in the top two slots in the smoker. filled the wood chip pan twice (each pan had one hour dring which time it did totally consume the chips), total time in smoker, two hours. i did start smoker about 10 minutes before getting birds out to it.

5/ oven : when 2nd pan was underway in the smoker, i preheated the oven to 250' - its a convection oven so set to full convection. when birds came out of smoker, immediately wraped them up in foil and sealed seams. did not add any butter or grease or any other seasoning. put birds in 250' oven for 45 minutes.

and that was it. checked internal temps and up to 180 and more so plenty cooked. LOTS of water came out of them and the foil needed to be poured out into sink. again lightly patted the pieces dry and set in a covered bowl and after cooled a bit, into the fridge for the night.

next day, served cold and huge hit! great success! some thought amount of smoke was divine.. but I thought just a touch too much for the breasts. seems that the legs (dark meat) suited that much smoke, and breasts we're just a touch heavy on smoke--for "perfection" mind you. certainly and absolutely still enjoyable!

so that's it. my first go. i'll be doing more again real soon! icon_biggrin.gif

thanks for the tips and suggestions. will be sure to save some bacon fat for coating before smoking and see how that fares, too. in the same batch, can i separate breasts from legs and, for example, locate them lower to get less smoked flavor? or would that be the other way around?

best pheasant i've made in years!
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