• Nashville-Style Hot Fried Pheasant


Spicy Fried Pheasant

By Andrew Zimmern

In this episode of Wild Game Kitchen, I take one of my favorite dishes, Nashville-style hot fried chicken, and reinterpret it for wild pheasant. Hot and spicy, batter-coated, crispy fried pheasant is paired with a spinach salad topped with bacon vinaigrette and ice cold mint basil lemonade—a perfect spread for a warm summer day. And for a bonus, I’m sharing a quick recipe for “phoenix on horseback,” a fun twist on the classic appetizer angels on horseback.

Nashville-Style Hot Fried Pheasant


‘Nashville Style’ Fried Pheasant

  • 2 pheasants, divided into 4 breasts (bone in) and 4 dark quarters, backs, necks and wings reserved for another use
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pickle juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts canola or vegetable oil

The Dip (Nashville Hot)

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce of your choice


Marinate the pheasant pieces in buttermilk and pickle juice mixture overnight, or up to 36 hours.

Combine the flour, starch, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a paper bag.

Remove pheasant from the marinade and dredge well in the flour mixture. Some people like to sprinkle more marinade on the bird at this point and dredge again.

Heat oil to 365 degrees F in a deep cast iron or dutch oven. Fry until just past golden brown and cooked through—the white meat will be ready after 6-7 minutes, the dark quarters after about 10-12 minutes.

Let rest on a sheet pan fitted with a grate.

Right after cooking the bird. Ladle 6-8 ounces of hot frying oil into a stainless steel work bowl.

Immediately add the cayenne pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and hot sauce.

Whisk to combine and liberally brush the seasoned oil on the chicken or dunk it in the mixture for maximum heat. If you like it hotter, add more cayenne or other dried ground hot chile.

Serve with sliced pickles and white bread.

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