Smoked Pheasant Jalapeno Poppers

About a month ago the nice the incredible people at Traeger Grills were kind enough to send me one of their Pro Series 34 grills. Since then I have been cooking almost everything on it. I have been trying to get a feel for how to best use it. Traegers website is full of recipes that look and sound wonderful. As I looked through my freezer I was trying to figure out what to do first and thought why not start with a pork butt. I figured a pork but would give me a good basis for how this thing worked and it did. In talking to the folks at Traeger I was told to think of this grill like an outdoor oven. I would only change that a little in this Grill is more like a wood burning oven and the different flavors you can get from the different wood pellets that they have are amazing.

One of the wood pellets they sell is called the Big Game Blend, it is a combination of red and white oak, hickory and rosemary and the flavor it adds to all meats not just wild game is other worldly. In my limited experience with smoking I have really only ever used two kinds of wood. Alder for fish and Apple for everything else. But this big game blend has been great on everything. I had a package of pheasant breasts that I wanted to use and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them. I had been thinking about making a Jalapeno Popper with some kind of wild game and then decided what better way to use this grill than to smoke some pheasant breasts shred meat up and then grill the poppers all on the same grill.

I started with a very simple brine for the breasts, water, maple sugar, and salt then smoke the breasts on 250 degrees for about 3 hours. One of the great features of this grill is that it has two meat thermometers for keeping track of how done your meat is. I wanted to smoke these breasts to just about 160 degrees and never had to open the grill to check them. I just push a read out button on the control panel and instantly know what temp the meat is. Once the breasts were done cooking I broke them up and put them in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough paddle attachment. After a few minutes the pheasant was shredded apart and I added cream cheese and some of Traegers Big Game Rub. This gave me the stuffing for my poppers.

After filling the peppers with the pheasant and cream cheese mixture I wrapped each pepper in a piece of bacon and then put them back on the grill. I increased my temperature setting to high which get the grill up between 425 and 450 degrees. Cooking the poppers for about 20 minutes got the bacon nice and golden brown. Now I know I might be biased but these were easily the best poppers I have ever eaten. Sweet, smoky and delicious all the way through.

Basic Pheasant Brine

4 cups of water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup maple sugar
4 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon peppercorns

Combine the brine ingredients in a pot over high heat and bring up to just before a boil. Remove  from the heat and let cool completely. Pour the brine over the pheasant in a none metal bowl and let sit in the fridge over night up to 12 hours. Remove the pheasant from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Heat your smoker up to temp 250 degrees and smoke the pheasant for about 3 hours. When the pheasant is done smoking shred the pheasant any way you can.

For the Poppers.

8 ounces shredded pheasant
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon Traeger Big game Rub
8-10 large Jalapenos
1 pound of bacon

Combine the pheasant, cream cheese and seasoning blend until well mixed. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the cream cheese mixture and wrap each pepper with a piece of bacon. If you are using a pellet grill turn it to the high setting and cook for about 20 minutes. otherwise you can grill them or bake them in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes.