How to Breast a Pheasant
Breasting a pheasant is quick, clean, and easy to learn – let us show you how.
With the rising popularity of shoots, pheasant is usually in plentiful supply. This keeps the cost down and makes for a fantastic entry-point into game cooking. However, there is a fairly common misconception that preparing gamebirds at home is too difficult or too messy, which dissuades many from trying.
Fortunately this isn’t the case at all; to breast a pheasant takes only a few minutes. This fantastic method allows you to take the very best cut of meat from the pheasant with the absolute minimum of fuss. It’s pleasingly simple & straightforward to perform – all you’ll need is a cutting board and a sharp knife.
Lay the pheasant on its back, side on to yourself. If the bird seems to roll too easily on your board, you can gently push its legs apart until it feels more stable.
Feel along the centre of the breast, running your fingers along the breast meat towards the bird’s belly.
Where you feel the soft breast meat end, use your non-dominant hand to pinch the bird’s skin and gently pull it upward.
With your dominant hand, take your knife and make a small cut into the skin that you’re pinching with your other hand.
The cut only needs to pierce the skin – no more than an inch long and running across the bird.
With your cut made, you can now put down your knife and rotate the bird so it is lying straight in front of you.
Hold the bird by the thighs with one hand and with the other firmly grasp the bird’s feathers just below your incision.
Tip: Take a good handful of feathers held close to the skin and you’ll avoid pulling out individual feathers.
Still holding the bird in place by its thighs, now pull slowly yet firmly towards the bird’s head. The incision you’ve made will ensure that the skin peels neatly away, revealing the breast meat beneath.
If necessary, you can then push the sides away to give yourself a clearer view of the whole breast.
Take your knife again and cut alongside the keelbone (running down the center of the bird’s chest) to start removing the first breast.
Keep working with nice clean cuts – you’ll find that your knife naturally follows the curve of the bird’s chest.
Support the breast until you can lift it away from the bird. Place it on a clean cutting board, and repeat the above step to remove the second breast.
Once all breasts have been removed, check for any shot or excessively bloody sections and simply cut these sections from the meat.
Rinse the breasts under the tap to wash away any traces of feathers and place them in a colander to dry or pat them dry with some clean kitchen roll.
That’s all there is to it! With the best of the meat taken, the rest of the bird can be discarded.
Your pheasant breast can then be bagged & frozen (remember to date & label the bag), or used right away in a delicious game recipe of your choice.