There is a lot of care and preparation that goes into skilfully dressing game and something that needs to be undertaken with patience and understanding. This is a step by step guide to helping you with the process.
Plucking your birds legs stage 1
Start at the legs. The proper technique is to pull the feathers downwards first in the direction they grew in, and then sharply back on themselves, against the direction of growth. Using this method, pluck the feathers from the bird working your way up and around until both legs are plucked clean.
Plucking your birds back stage 2
Turn the bird over so that you can access its back. Using the same method as in phase 1, pluck the feathers from the back, working from the top of the tail to about half-way up the neck. The feathers are thicker and tougher in this area so you don’t want to tear the skin. With this in mind the best process is to hold the skin taught and grasp the feathers right at their base before removing quickly.
Plucking your birds breast stage 3
Turn the bird over again and repeat phase 2 on the front, working from the plucked legs up over the breast to the same point midway up the neck.
Using a good pair of poultry shears remove the wings at the first joint – not where they attach to the body, but one joint further along. Remove any remaining feathers from around the wing joint.
Burn the teeny-tiny quills off (optional but recommended)
To remove any tiny residual quills or feathers, just hold the bird above a flame (any flame) and turn it so the flame passes briefly over the entire skin.
Remove head, feet, and tendons (optional)
Using the shears remove the head from halfway up the neck (where you plucked up to), and the feet from the ‘elbow’, the main join mid-way down. You now have the option of removing the tendons before cooking. It’s not essential, but they can make it rather tough if left.
Remove the ‘crop’
Reach into the neck and try to pull out the crop (the small bag of recently swallowed food) in one piece without spilling the contents.
Draw the bird (remove the entrails)
This can be quite smelly. Find the cloaca (rectum) and cut across it so you can fit two or three fingers inside. You now need to get in there and grab hold of anything loose and squidgy, and pull it out all in one go.
• Your pheasant is now ready for cooking, enjoy!