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You wouldn’t think a guy from Appalachia, Va., would know what to do with a pheasant, but Richmond chef and restaurateur Jason Alley knocks it out of the park with this roasted rooster recipe. Paired with a pan gravy and served over zucchini pancakes, it’s a wild take on a classic Sunday dinner. Done right, it should transport you back to grandma’s kitchen. Though Alley doesn’t specify, I suggest brining the pheasants overnight to add as much moisture as possible. And if you didn’t pluck the birds to the wingtips (I never do), don’t worry about trimming and roasting them under the bird.

Garlic Roasted Pheasant with Pan Gravy and Zucchini Pancakes


For the pheasants
2 whole pheasants, plucked
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch tarragon leaves, minced
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 quart chicken stock
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water


1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Place the garlic and tarragon in a food processor with the motor on high. Drizzle in the oil a bit at a time, until a paste is formed. Rub the pheasants inside and out with the marinade, and season inside and out with salt and pepper.
3. Trim the wing tips off the pheasants and truss each bird. Place the wing tips on a sheet tray, cover with a roasting rack, and place the pheasants on top. Roast until they reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees at the thighs. Allow the pheasants to rest at least 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the gravy: Degrease the roasting pan and deglaze it with water. Scrape to loosen the brown bits, and place in a pot.
5. Add 1 quart chicken stock and bring to a boil. Thicken with a slurry of cornstarch and water. Season with chopped herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Zucchini Pancakes with Spicy Smoked Paprika Yogurt


For the yogurt
1 quart Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. chopped hot pickled chilies
Salt and pepper to taste

For the zucchini pancakes
4 medium zucchinis, seeds removed
½ tsp. sumac (optional)
6 scallions, sliced
1 small roasted red pepper, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
1 ½ cups rice flower
½ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying


1. Make the yogurt sauce: Combine all ingredients, and reserve until ready to serve.
2. Grate the zucchini on the large-hole side of a box grater into a mixing bowl. Add the sumac, scallions, red pepper, garlic, and egg.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the rice flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. Add the zucchini mixture to the bowl with the rice-flour mixture. Add the buttermilk. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon.
5. Heat a deep fryer to 375 degrees, or a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add a bit of oil.
6. Ladle the zucchini mixture onto the griddle and cook until the edges just begin to brown. Flip the pancakes and cook for about 3 minutes longer.
7. Serve with paprika yogurt on top.