Pheasant Marsala with Cream

Pheasant with mushrooms and cream is a favorite recipe among hunters in the Midwest. Though canned cream of mushroom soup is convenient, it won't give your food the depth of flavor and visual appeal that you can achieve by using real, fresh ingredients. This recipe takes about 30 minute to pull together. 

This pheasant Marsala recipe is inspired by chicken Marsala, a classic Italian-American dish. I let the mushrooms stand out in this recipe-- so use good, flavorful mushrooms, if available. Fresh herbs such as thyme and sage complement the gaminess of pheasant while Marsala wine adds a subtle sweet note. 

Traditional chicken Marsala recipes do not include cream, but I thought "what the heck."

Servings: 4 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cooking Time: 30 minutes 
- 4 skinless and boneless pheasant breasts 
- 8 to 10 ounces of mushrooms (pictured is chamshell and shimeji) 
- 1 large shallot, chopped 
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced 
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided 
- 1 tablespoon of butter 
- ½ cup of dry Marsala wine 
- 1 cup of low-sodium game or chicken stock 
 - ½ cup of heavy cream 
 - 4 sprigs of fresh thyme 
- 1 fresh sage leaf, optional 
 - ½ cup of all-purpose flour 
- Kosher salt 
 - Freshly cracked pepper 
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish 
- Squeeze of lemon juice


1. Place pheasant breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to an even thickness-- about half-inch thick. Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of breasts. 

2. Combine flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, and freshly cracked pepper to taste in a bowl. In a pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil/butter becomes hot, dredge flattened pheasant breasts in the flour and then fry on both sides until golden. Add more oil/butter to the pan as necessary. Remove fried pheasant from pan and keep warm.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and heat over medium-high. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the mushrooms and sauté until golden. Brown mushrooms in batches if you need to, do not overcrowd the pan. Remove the browned mushrooms and set aside. 

4. Lower heat to medium or medium low, add chopped shallot and sauté until softened. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant-- do not burn. Add Marsala wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release browned bits. Simmer and reduce wine by half. 

5. When wine is reduced by half, add stock and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes. Turn down heat to low and stir in heavy cream, thyme sprigs and sage. Add browned mushrooms and pheasant breasts into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Do not allow cream to scorch. 

Take off heat when cream thickens; if sauce is too thick, loosen with more stock. Discard thyme sprigs and sage leaf. Add a squeeze of lemon juice on top, and season to taste. Serve pheasant Marsala immediately over pasta, mashed potatoes, orzo or roasted potatoes.