Roast Brined Pheasant
Brining the pheasant with a seasoned salt-and-water solution adds flavor and helps keep the meat moist as it roasts. Carrots halved lengthwise serve as a rack to hold the pheasant above the pan’s surface while it roasts.
5 cups water
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 (6-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
1 orange, quartered
3 bay leaves
2 whole nutmegs, crushed*
1 cinnamon stick, halved
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole juniper berries
2 teaspoons whole allspice
1 whole pheasant
3 carrots, halved lengthwise
1 apple, such as Honeycrisp or McIntosh, cut into 6 wedges
1 orange, cut into 6 wedges
1 bunch fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage and/or thyme
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup no-sodium chicken broth
½ cup apple cider
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1. Combine all brine ingredients in large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until sugar and salt are dissolved and mixture is flavorful, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
2. Pour brine into large bowl; stir in enough ice to cool to room temperature.
3. Place pheasant in large non-reactive container; add brine to cover. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
4. Heat oven to 375°F. Arrange carrots evenly spaced over bottom of shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Remove pheasant from brine; pat dry. Discard brine.
5. Stuff apple wedges, orange sections and fresh herbs into cavity of pheasant. Rub outside of pheasant with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set pheasant on the carrots. Combine chicken broth and apple cider in large measuring cup; pour half of mixture into roasting pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan.
6. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until internal temperature in thickest part reaches 165°F., basting with pan juices every 10 minutes.
7. Heat broiler. Broil 3 to 5 minutes or until pheasant is browned and crisp. Remove pheasant; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
8. Meanwhile, add remaining chicken broth mixture and 2 tablespoons butter to roasting pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Boil 3 to 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Serve with pheasant.
TIP *To crush nutmeg, place on a cutting board and smash with a meat mallet or heavy pan.