For me, the holiday meals are about enjoying foods that I wouldn’t typically serve year-round.  Why not try this very regal Bacon-Wrapped Pheasant recipe in your rotisserie this holiday season.

Pheasant has long been a centerpiece of culinary celebration since the time of the Roman Empire. There are many stories and historical references of kings and court dining on a fine pheasant dinner. As a matter a fact, King Henry VIII kept a priest on hand solely as a pheasant breeder.

Pheasant is a beautiful game bird and is widely hunted around the world and can be found in specialty grocery stores and at some farmers markets. You’ll find that wild pheasant is leaner than farm-raised pheasant, but both are equally delicious.

Because wild pheasant is a lean meat, adding fat to your recipe is necessary. That’s why I love this Bacon-Wrapped Pheasant cooked in my Ronco Rotisserie. The rotation of the rotisserie constantly bastes the lean bird with bacon, making it moist and delicious.  Most of the bacon fat drips off into the rotisserie drip tray, leaving you with amazing flavor.

Ingredients

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  • 2 pheasants, 2 ½ – 3 pounds each
  • 8 pieces of thick cut apple wood smoked bacon (preferably uncured)
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet Spanish paprika
  • Fresh cracked mixed peppercorns
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Rinse and completely dry pheasants
  1. Trim off excess neck fat and stuff it into cavity along with one peeled and halved shallot. Tie legs together with a rotisserie tie. This will not completely seal off the cavity, but we will do that later.
  1. Generously rub pheasant with sweet smoked Spanish paprika, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.
  1. pheasant7Wrap each bird with 4 pieces of bacon as shown. Try not to over lap bacon. Rub bacon with more paprika, salt and pepper.
  1. Use about 4 rotisserie ties to truss the bird around the whole body. This will secure the bacon in place while holding the wings and legs in place. Be sure to tie one around the cavity area to secure the shallot in place. If any bacon is hanging loose, simply tuck it under a tie.  
  1. Skewer both pheasants on rotisserie spit and cook for about 12 minutes per pound. When done, the internal temperature reading where the leg meets the body should read 160º F.
  1. Set rotisserie to NO HEAT ROTATE and allow pheasants to rest and rotate for about 10 minutes. Carve as you would a chicken.

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Chef’s notes

  • I find that a 2 ½ to 3-pound pheasant will feed 3 people comfortably. I would call for 6 servings with this recipe
  • Smaller birds really take on the flavor of anything that you stuff the cavity with, so do not skip the shallots.  They add a wonderful flavor.
  • There are many different types of paprika and they vary in flavor.  The sweet smoked Spanish paprika I used for this recipe has a wonderfully smoky flavor without any of the bitterness of other varieties.

Whatever you choose to put on your holiday table this year, may your celebration be filled with love and joy.

– Chef Paja