Say farewell to summer with this fresh, spicy sauce atop pheasant that has been grilled to perfection
Labor Day. The last gasp of summer. The finale to a season of ice-cold beer, roaring charcoal fires, and mouthwatering upland game tattooed with grill marks that spell “perfection.” But what’s tastier than a succulent pheasant grilled oh-so-right? A fresh, yet spicy, chimichurri to dollop atop.
The biggest—and perhaps only—mistake you can make with this chimichurri is to rinse your fresh herbs without properly drying (or at least shaking) them off. The extra water from the rinse will dilute this flavor. Avoid that, follow these simple instructions, and you’re golden.
A note on spice: the heat of jalapeño peppers can vary by batch—at least that has been my experience. Some are super spicy; some are milder. Smoking them also seems to reduce the spiciness. My advice is to taste a bite that includes seeds and pulp after smoking the peppers, then use that to decide how many peppers you want to seed (removing pulp and seeds) in the chimichurri blend. As a backup plan, you can set aside all of the pulp and seeds at first. If the chimichurri is not spicy enough for your tastes, you can easily add some of that pulp and seeds back into the blend.
Enjoy! And so long, summer. Welcome back, fall—the only real season that matters. Well, maybe some of winter matters, too. Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments and be sure to check out my other wild game recipes and cooking instructions here.
Grilled Pheasant with Smoked Jalapeño ChimichurriJack Hennessy
- Food processor
- 1 whole pheasant butchered
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- 6 jalapeño peppers halved and smoked
- 1½ cups flat Italian parsley
- 1 cup cilantro
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsbp garlic freshly minced
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Butcher pheasant into legs, thighs, wings, and one whole bone-in breast
- Lightly dust with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and allow to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours prior to grilling
- While pheasant comes to room temp, cut jalapeños in half and smoke at 200 F for 2 hours
- To make chimichurri, decide on what level of spice you want. Seed some or all of the jalapeños (see notes above) or add all jalapeños, including pulp and seeds, into food processor alongside other ingredients.
- Add 1½ cups freshy Italian parsley, 1 cup fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, and ½ cup red-wine vinegar to the food processor with the jalapeños. Blend thoroughly, then slowly add ¼ cup olive oil while continuing to blend.
- Put chimichurri in fridge until ready to serve
- Grill pheasant adequately—160 degrees Fahrenheit for breasts and 180-190 F for legs, wings, and thighs. Pro tip: It helps to set up two-zone heating (one direct and one indirect) and cover your grill while cooking. When you’ve reached the ideal sear, move pheasant breast bone-down to indirect heat and stack thighs, legs, and wings either around or on top to avoid further searing the meat.
- Once pheasant is completely grilled, allow to rest 10 minutes before serving
- Serve with dollops (or delicious smears) of chimichurri or allow guest to add at their leisure
Jack Hennessy grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago and didn't start hunting until he attended graduate school in Spokane, Washington, at the age of 26. Hennessy began work in professional kitchens in high school but didn't start writing wild game recipes until he joined the Spokesman-Review in 2014. Since then, his recipes have appeared with Petersen's Hunting, Backcountry Journal, Gun Dog Magazine, among many others. He now lives with his wife, daughter, and Wirehaired Vizsla, Dudley, in Wichita, Kansas.