Great recipes, tips, & tricks for Game birds...
Grilled Quail with South Carolina Barbecue Sauce
How to Pluck a Pheasant
Plucking a pheasant is not hard, but it requires patience. The reason is because unlike a duck or goose, a pheasant has relatively thin and loose skin. that will tear very easily if you try to rush.
There are two methods: Dry plucking and wet plucking. Dry plucking is what you think it is, you just start plucking feathers off the bird. Although many people swear by it, I never do this with fresh pheasants because the wet-plucking method works so well.
Wet plucking means scalding the bird before plucking. To do this, you need to get a large pot of water and get it to scalding temperature. What is scalding temperature? Steaming, but not boiling — not even simmering. If you need a number, shoot for 150-160 degrees.
Do one bird at a time. The scalding process only works when the feathers and skin are warm. Once they grow cold you will have a soggy mess. Work quickly and efficiently.
Once you have the water hot enough, pluck the pheasant’s tail feathers out, one by one. Then grab the pheasant by the head or feet (I do the feet) and plunge him into the water. Hold him under for 30 seconds. Lift him out and let him drain until the water stops coming off in a stream. Repeat this three times. This means you have dunked the pheasant for a total of 90 seconds.
Pluck the bird while it is still warm. Start with the wings. Next pluck the large feathers along the outer edges of the breast – carefully, as they can tear the skin easily. Then work on the flank feathers on the bird’s thigh, then go to the neck and finish with the back and the rest of the legs. Take your time. It is very important. Go feather by feather if need be, especially around the breast — you want it to look pretty and not torn.
The feathers on the wings come off easier than those of a duck, which is the most persnickety part of duck-plucking. But the pheasant’s breast — especially around any place that has a shot hole — is the hardest part, to my mind. When you have shot holes, anchor the skin down with the fingers of one hand, and pluck one feather at a time with the other. It’s the only way to get them off without tearing the skin.
When you are finished, gut the pheasant (save the liver, heart and gizzard if you wish) and wash it well. Dry the bird with a paper towel thoroughly, stuff a clean paper towel in the cavity and then set him on another paper towel in a lidded container in the fridge for 2-7 days. Pheasants age well this way.
This method works for all other upland game birds. All are gallinules, and all have the same thin skin as a pheasant. In my experience, Grouse, quail and partridges are better dry-plucked than wet-plucked, although it takes a lot longer to dry pluck than wet-pluck a bird.
1. Make the sauce first. Heat the butter over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté until it turns translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add everything else, stir well and simmer slowly for 30 minutes or more.
2. To flatten the quail, use kitchen shears to remove the backbones of the birds by cutting along either side. Put the quail breast side up on a cutting board and press to flatten. If you want to be fancy, carefully snip out the ribs and the curved saber bones near the wishbone. Salt the quail and toss them in the vegetable oil.
3. Get your grill hot and lay your quail breast side up. Grill over high heat with the grill lid down for 5 minutes. As it cooks, paint the breast side with the sauce. Turn the quail over and paint the cooked side with sauce. Grill the breast side with the grill cover up for 2 minutes, then turn over again and paint with the sauce one more time. Cover the grill and cook another 2-4 minutes. Take off the grill and paint with sauce one more time.
8-16 quail, backbones removed and flattened
3-4 tbspoons vegetable oil
4 tbspoons butter
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 cup yellow mustard (the kind you get at the ballpark)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard (like Coleman’s)
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
Prep time: 12 hrs, passive curing
Cook time: 8 hrs
Serves: Makes 6 legs of confit
A GREAT cook for legs of birds like pheasants & turkeys. Slow cooked off the bone, gets around nasty tendons.
Also once made, confit will last in sealed bag for a month. It can also be frozen for up to a year.
Proprietary rights 2013, Burks Quail Run, all rights reserved.