Making a BBQ pheasant and gouda pizza was never on my bucket list, but when the inspiration strikes, you have to go with it. The idea came from a hosted visit to the MacFarlane Pheasant Farm in Janesville, Wisconsin where I learned more than I ever thought there was to know about pheasants, including the fact the tiny little bird is a delicacy.
The farm began in 1929, and it has since grown into the largest pheasant farm on the continent. I visited near season’s end, so only 30% of the birds were still on the farm. Even so, it seemed as if the plucky little birds were everywhere.
The little glasses they wear are called peepers and they serve as blinders to help cut down on aggressiveness and cannibalism. Pheasants might look innocent, but they are meanies. They tend to peck at each other’s tails, and since the tail feathers are a hunter’s trophy, it’s essential to keep those intact.
The white ringnecks (which are used for food because they don’t taste gamey) are especially aggressive, and most of them are in open free roaming barns with dim light to keep them calmer.
The farm is divided into three components: food, eggs/chicks, and adult birds. The young birds stay in barns until they’re about 6 weeks old, and when they’re moved outside the weather has to be perfect for 3-5 days to help them make that transition safely. When they reach 20 or 22 weeks, they’re considered adults.
MacFarlane is also the only farm in North America to raise the highly coveted Hungarian partridge (the variety specifically requested by Michael Keaton). In that breed, females are more aggressive than males, and the super tiny ring-like peepers they wear are called bits.
The majority of mature birds are sent for stocking or to hunting clubs where they’ve been hunted by the likes of Queen Elizabeth! MacFarlane Farms crates and hand-delivers all of its birds to guarantee quality.
People request particular game bird varieties, the most popular being the ringneck, but some are smaller and quicker and some are heartier and can withstand temperature changes.
Another huge percentage of birds are sent offsite to be processed for use in restaurants, gift packs and mail-order. That’s where mine came from for the BBQ pheasant and gouda pizza.
About that pizza… I became fascinated with the idea of trying pheasant, so I finally broke down this month and ordered a smoked pheasant from MacFarlane Pheasant Farms. I decided to recreate their website recipe for BBQ pheasant and gouda pizza.
BBQ Pheasant and Gouda Pizza
Guess what? I was “pheasantly” surprised (that one was for you, Mike) by how much I liked it! It reminded me of chicken or turkey in its appearance and texture, but the taste of the smoked pheasant was very much like ham.
And it all began like this. Looks like smoked chicken, yes? But pheasant is lower in cholesterol and fat and higher in protein than chicken. It’s not oily like duck either. MacFarlane Farms likes to call it the other, other white meat.
To make the pizza, I chopped the pheasant breast into small chunks, then shredded some gouda cheese. Yum!
Then I spooned a spicy BBQ sauce over a pre-made crust and sprinkled on the cheese, pheasant, pepperoncini peppers, red onion and fresh cilantro.
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
BBQ Pheasant & Gouda Pizza - MacFarlane Pheasant Farm
- BBQ Pheasant & Gouda Pizza
- 1 12 inch pre-baked pizza crust
- 1 cup spicy barbeque sauce
- 2 skinless boneless Pheasant breast halves cooked and cubed*
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cup shredded Smokey Gouda Cheese*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place pizza crust on a medium baking sheet. Spread the crust with barbeque sauce. Top with Pheasant, cilantro, pepperoncini peppers, onion, and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
You can substitute Smoked Pheasant for regular pheasant and then switch over to traditional Gouda cheese.
If you love quirky attractions, take a trip to MacFarlane Pheasants in Janesville, Wisconsin. Another really interesting place I visited there is the Milton House Museum — a hexagonal stagecoach inn. Reach out to Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for help in planning a trip!