This story was originally featured on Field & Stream.
Before we begin, let me set the record straight: The new Popeyes chicken sandwich is better than the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich—by a country-fried mile. OK, now that we’ve got that out the way, let’s move on to an even better sandwich, the fried rooster.
There are plenty of great ways to cook pheasant—roasted, made into soup, or grilled with a beer can up the rear—but my favorite method, at least with breast meat, is with hot oil in cast iron. With the exception of maybe wild turkey, pheasant fries better than just about any game I’ve ever cooked. The meat stays tender and moist, and pairs perfectly with a salty, crunchy, golden crust. And there’s no better way to eat fried pheasant than in a sandwich.
What sets this beauty apart from a Popeyes or Chick-fil-A sandwich—aside from, you know, the improved flavor you get from honest, organic, hard-earned meat—is that it’s easy to get. The first time I tried to order the Popeyes sandwich, they were already sold out by 1 p.m. The second time, I had to wait in line for 25 minutes, which is longer than it took me to cook the fried rooster. What’s more, the pheasant sandwich brought back some great memories of flushing birds with friends behind good dogs. All I got from the Popeyes sando was a stomachache.
Here’s how to make your own fried pheasant sandwich.
- 2 pheasant breasts (or wild turkey breast meat)
- Peanut oil
- 1 cup whole flour
- 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Hot sauce
- Brioche bun
- Shredded lettuce
- Dill pickle chips
Preheat the oil in a cast-iron skillet to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the flour and cornmeal with the spices. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Pour enough buttermilk into a separate bowl so the pheasant breasts can take a bath in it. Set this bowl next to the one with the seasoned flour.
Lightly coat the pheasant breasts in the seasoned flour, then dip them into the buttermilk. Let the excess milk run off, then drop the breasts back into the seasoned flour. Make sure you coat every bit of the breasts with the seasoned flour, because this will make for a crunchier sandwich.
Place the pheasant breasts into the skillet and fry for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Once they’re finished cooking, transfer them to a plate or cutting board and immediately season with salt.
Meanwhile, mix a few tablespoons of mayonnaise with several dashes of hot sauce, then generously coat both the top and bottom buns with the sauce. Add a pile of shredded lettuce to the bottom bun, top it with the pheasant breasts, and add a few dill pickles. Dig in and enjoy.