Sugar Cured And Smoked Pheasant
This is a four step process, brining or marinating, smoking, roasting and re-smoking.
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup salt
20 peppercorns, approximately
2 - 3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon each: chili powder, curry powder and coriander seeds
2 quarts water
1/2 teaspoon sodium nitrate or commercial cure. If using a commercial product use their directions.
Prepare brine (marinade) by bringing first seven ingredients to a boil. Allow to cool, then stir in sodium nitrite or cure. Prepare fowl by washing thoroughly in cold, strong, salty water. Pierce meat every inch or so with a meat fork to speed penetration of marinade. Rinse fowl in clear water. Place birds in a plastic container large enough to allow complete immersion. I find that a plastic dish pan works great. Add prepared brine and enough cold water so as to insure coverage, usually one to two gallons. Cover container and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, stirring occasionally. When brining is complete drain off all liquid and pat meat dry.
Place birds high in smoker and apply a cool smoke (100 degrees) for four hours. Use a mix of oak, hickory, apple and cottonwood, but any other hardwood can be used. Any commercial smoker is suitable for this operation or you can build your own cabinet. The key point in this smoking step is not to get the temperature too high or meat will dry out.
After four hours in smoker remove birds and place in an oven roaster pan, covered grate on bottom. Add two cups water. Roast birds at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
Baste with juices frequently. When done roasting, allow birds to cool slightly and coat exterior of bird with vegetable oil. Save cooking juices.
While still warm return birds to smoker for another three to four hours. Periodically baste with juices left from step three. Allow to thoroughly cool. Place in plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Your birds are done.