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Pecan-smoked pheasant sandwich works off history in ‘Braising the Wild’

Jack Hennessy puts a twist on a sandwich from history with a Pecan-smoked pheasant sandwich in “Braising the Wild”

Pecan-smoked pheasant sandwich in “Braising the Wild”
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy always has nuggets of information each week in “Braising the Wild.” This week the nugget is one drawn from history and is something I had not known before.

Here is the recipe:

Pecan-Smoked Pheasant Sandwich

During WWII, game wardens turned the other way as thousands of pheasants were turned into sandwiches to feed tens of thousands soldiers passing through Aberdeen, South Dakota. It is a pretty neat story, definitely worth reading up on.

The Pheasant Sandwich is iconic, but for my version, I changed a few things – I used smoked pheasant, altered some ratios and added honey with dill relish (instead of sweet relish). Verdict: amazing.

In the process of making this recipe, I also experimented with dry versus wet brines for pheasants. If you want to learn more about that, you can look up the article “Smoked Pheasant” online with Pheasants Forever. Ultimately, I decided I prefer wet brines for birds.

Ingredients (two servings):

1 whole pheasant
Pecan chunks, pellets, or chips for smoking


8 cups cold water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1 ounce black peppercorns
1/2 bulb fresh garlic, smashed
6 ounces fresh ginger, smashed

Pheasant salad mix:

Shredded smoked pheasant
Half medium yellow onion, finely minced
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
One hardboiled egg, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dill relish
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix brine ingredients thoroughly until salt and sugar dissolve. Add whole pheasant to brine and let soak for 10-12 hours.

Upon removal, thoroughly rinse off brine and pat dry, let sit in fridge for 2 hours prior to smoking to completely dry.

Set smoker to 220. For this recipe, at the time I used my Weber charcoal grill and soaked pecan chips for half hour. I lit coals in a chimney starter until coals were about half gray then put them in the grill, covered with chips, and minimized oxygen flow without putting out coals. I placed grate on top along with spatchcocked pheasant (spine cut out and flattened bird).

Smoke until pheasant reaches until internal temperature of 160 then remove and shred once cool.

Place egg in pot with cool water and bring to a boil, allowing to boil for 9-10 minutes then remove and immediately run under cold water. Ideally, cover with ice cubes too. Once cooled, crack and remove shell. Crumble egg and set aside.

Mix all pheasant salad ingredients without mayonnaise.

Add mayonnaise, more if necessary for desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add to bread, toasted or not, and enjoy a spin on a tasty wild historical sandwich!