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  • Ken Perrotte

Enjoy Stuffed, Pan-Fried Pheasant; Delicious, Moist & Tender with Two Winning Sauce Options

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

By Ken Perrotte

Whether you are hunting wild pheasants in the beautiful upland habitat of America's heartland or availing yourself of opportunities at a licensed shooting preserve, make sure you enjoy game bird meals worthy of your experience.

Ken and friend Gil Shelton at a Virginia shoot

Quail, pheasant and chukar are among the most popular upland birds at preserve shoots. While there are myriad ways to cook delicate quail, only pheasant (and sometimes larger chukar) offer enough breast meat to adequately prepare this delicious dish. With wild birds, a nice plump grouse may be substituted. This preparation helps offset some of the meat dryness often encountered in birds like pheasant or grouse. We recommend either of two sauce options. Piccata fans will likely enjoy the caper sauce.


2 pheasants (breasted, skinned and de-boned, creating 4 pieces of breast meat)

½ cup onion, finely chopped

1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

1 teaspoon bacon fat (can substitute oil, butter or margarine)

4 each ¼-inch cubes butter, chilled or frozen

Flour seasoned with lemon pepper and rubbed sage

1 egg, beaten and seasoned with a couple drops Sriracha or hot sauce, to taste

Panko bread crumbs, seasoned with lemon pepper and rubbed sage

2 tablespoons olive oil (or more if needed)

2 tablespoons butter (or more if needed)

Lemon butter wine sauce

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

Caper sauce

¼ cup white wine

1 tablespoon capers

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

The dogs seem to be enjoying themselves at this preserve hunt in Virginia ...


Sauté onion and mushroom in the bacon fat over medium low heat until soft and just starting to brown. Set aside and cool the mixture.

Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, slice a small pocket horizontally in the breasts. It’s okay if you accidentally cut all the way through or separate the loin. Using a meat mallet or similar tool, pound the meat to ½-inch thickness. We like to put the meat into an old cereal bag when pounding. This keeps everything neat and clean. But you can cover with plastic wrap if you don’t have a bag.

Stuff the breast pockets with the butter, mushroom and onion mix, using flour to both “glue” the pocket and adhere any separated pieces of meat. Try to seal in the stuffing as much as much as possible. Dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Dip in seasoned egg and dredge in seasoned panko crumbs, pressing to fully coat the meat. Refrigerate for about an hour. A parchment paper lined cookie sheet works well for this step. The chilled breasts will better hold together during the first stages of cooking.

Melt the butter and oil over medium heat. Cook the breasts thoroughly until brown on both sides. The stuffed breast is still relatively thin and they don’t take a long time to cook. Remove and keep warm.

To make the sauce, deglaze the pan with wine. Add the mushrooms or capers and simmer until reduced in half. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top the breasts with sauce and serve immediately. Serves 2. Pairs well with a light red wine, such as a Sangiovese, Beaujolais or some pinot noirs, or a light to moderately-oaked chardonnay. Oven-roasted red potatoes with butter and rosemary, and steamed or pan-sautéed seasonal vegetables make good sides. We’ve used everything from chardonnay to Riesling wines in the sauces.


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