This past January I finally bit the bullet and ventured north to Nebraska to join my uncle and his friends for a week of pheasant hunting. It was a blast and I am disappointed that I haven't been going the past 5+ years.
I was able to pick them up last Friday on the drive back from a long work week in Houston. Being the smallish bird that they are, it doesnt take too long to smoke them, so I pulled some beef ribs that I had been waiting to smoke out of the fridge for the requisite overnight defrost. Haven't done beef ribs before and didn't quite know what I was doing, so figured I would stick with the 3-2-1. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Started the morning off right with homemade egg mcmuffins and blueberry pomegranate juice. Gotta keep the vitamins and anti-oxidants flowing when dealing with long exposure to the smoke that el smokelito puts off. Lucked out at the grocery store as they had bags and bags of Big John's Wood on sale for $3 a bag. I got two, one hickory (unused) and one pecan (unused) to add to my other bag of pecan (partially used). Wood is easily the biggest expense on a smoke to smoke basis, so this made my day.
Started making a brine for the pheasant at 11, so it would cool by noon and I could put the birds in. The brine consisted of about 4 tablespoons of Himalayan pink salt and Hawaiian red sea salt (2 parts each), some cinnamon chips, fresh peppercorns and a metric s-ton of water. Since we dont really deal with exact amounts, it wasnt really a metric s-ton, but closer to a full sauce pan.
Once it was ready I let it cool and put the birds in. Ideally, I would have let them soak up the brine overnight, but I didn't consider brining until I woke up, so four hours would have to suffice.
Onto the ribs. As stated above, I never cooked beef ribs before but they looked good coming out of the freezer.
I used the same rib rub as before, not once thinking that I should maybe use the brisket rub since these were beef. It didn't end up mattering because I didn't use enough anyway. They call that rubfail in the business.
The ribs went on at 2pm stayed in the smoke for a few hours (3). Here they are when I pulled them and wrapped them in foil for the oven. So far so good.
At 4pm I salted and peppered the outside of each of the pheasant and added them to the smoker around 4:30.
The ribs went back in the smoke at 7pm, so here they are together. At this point, the pheasant were holding an internal temp of about 120. I moved them to the oven for one last hour; because I was hungry.
My smoker is not in good shape and if anyone has any ideas on how to fix her, let me know.
(Imagine this times 10. It's everywhere and almost sealed the lid shut.)
When it was all said and done the ribs could have used some more time in the direct smoke I think because they came out with a great smoke ring, but way too much fat on the bottom half of each rib. The bites of meat, sans fat, were delicious but the fat was too much to deal with. Really greasy, but they looked great at least.
The pheasant on the other hand, I don't think could have turned out much better considering it was my first time. The texture is not unlike a Thanksgiving turkey (Not the kind you buy at the deli. You should know that the stuff you buy at the deli is liquid turkey. Puke.) The brine really soaked into the meat but I think would have been a lot better given a few more hours. I ended up pouring a little Stubb's BBQ sauce over some of the breast meat and I will be damned if it wasn't delicious. There aren't many pics of this part because local spirits had begun to be imbibed at this point.
I want to give the beef ribs another shot. I think they could be really good if I can figure out the right process. Pheasant was good and I dont think I would cook it any other way than in the smoker.
In recent posts, Smokehopper and I have been ignoring the cardinal rule of the blog and have been using ovens. For this we apologize. However, I will say that we will make up for this with Christmastime in July. Check back for updates.