Smoked Breast of Pheasant Salad
with Pistachio and Date Dressing
by John Manikowski
You may brighten this dish further by smoking 1 or 2 red peppers at the same time as the pheasant and laying thin slices around the salad with the pheasant strips.
If you cannot find mesclun lettuces at your produce stand, substitute another type of lettuce, such as red leaf or raddiccio to accompany the green leaf lettuce base.
- 2 large pheasant breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1/2 cup fresh apple cider
- 1/2 tablespoon trinidad masala (or substitute Old Bay Seasoning or chili powder)
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dates
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fleshly ground pepper
- 1/2 head green leaf lettuce, washed
- 1/2 pound mesclun (mixed baby greens)
Trim the pheasant breasts, wash and pat dry. Mix cider and trinidad masala together in a glass or ceramic container. Immerse pheasant breasts into the solution, cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours or overnight.
Light a charcoal fire in a backyard smoker.
When the charcoals are gray and hot remove the pheasant breasts from the cure, pat dry and lay on the wire rack over the wood chips. Cover and smoke for 1-1/2 hours. Replenish charcoal and wood chips as needed.
Remove pheasant breasts, cool in refrigerator for at least one hour.
To prepare the dressing:
In a mortar and pestle, a clean coffee grinder or with a sharp knife, pulverize the pistachio nuts until they are finely chopped.
Combine pistachios, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dates, chives, cumin, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Transfer to a serving container and set aside.
In four individual salad bowls, lay a thick bed of green leaf lettuce on the bottom. Pile mesculn mixture in the center of each. Set aside.
Remove pheasant from refrigerator. Slice breasts the long way into 1/4-inch x 1/4 strips and fan around the top of the mesculn mix. Drizzle salad dressing over top, making sure you spoon out plenty of the pistachios and dates onto each dish (they may have settled to the bottom). Serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Serves 4 for lunch or 6 as an appetizer.
Hogue's Fume Blanc from the Northwestern part of the U.S., Washington state, pours a delicately balanced wine with spice and vanilla. A dry white wine with good character and price that compliments pheasant salad served in or outdoors.
John Manikowski's Game Recipes
- Grilled Duck Breasts with Orange, Ginger and Balsamic Sauce
- Upside-Down Roast Canada Goose
- Roast Guinea Hens Stuffed with Mangos and Scallions
- Smoked Mallard Duck Legs with Hoisin Sauce Over Couscous
- Breast of Mallard with Morels and Pistachio-Encrusted Figs
- Calvados Pheasant
- Pheasant with Olives and Fresh Plums
- Smoked Breast Of Pheasant Salad with Pistachio and Date Dressing
- Leeky Pheasant
- Quail Sautéed with Melon, Thyme and Red Onion
- Grilled, Butterflied Wood Duck with Dried Cherry Sauce
- Sources for Wild Game
- About John Manikowski
- An Introduction to Turkey Alternatives