There’s a chill in the air, pumpkins are on display and Halloween is just around the corner, which means fall has arrived and it’s the perfect time to serve pheasant. While pheasant may not be on your regular shopping list, many people are surprised by its delightful flavor and enjoy this delicacy during the holiday season. Family-owned MacFarlane Pheasants has been a leader in pheasant production since 1929 when Kenneth MacFarlane formed MacFarlane Pheasant Farm on the outskirts of Janesville, Wisconsin. With the city growing to encompass the farm, they moved about 1 ½ miles south in 1953. Always a family business, Kenneth’s nephew, Bill MacFarlane, has been running the business since the mid-80s. MacFarlane has been a national supplier of pheasant for Whole Foods Market stores for over five years. MacFarlane raises domesticated pheasant in outdoor flight pens. The birds have room to roam and fly, giving a more intense poultry flavor without being too “gamey.” Birds are fed a vegetarian diet, without growth hormones or antibiotics. (Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising poultry.) A few pheasant facts:
- Pheasants are native to Asia and were brought to the US in the late 1880s.
- Pheasant meat is considered “earthy” in its flavor, so it pairs well with mushrooms and garlic. Also nice with sweet or fruity flavors as a glaze.
- Braising is the traditional cooking method, but cooking on the grill or stove top works well too.
- Brussels sprouts, squash and cabbage are great accompaniments.