Spatchcocking sounds fancy but it’s pretty simple in practice. All you need is a pair of shears to remove the spine from a bird. Spatchcocking helps reduce cooking time, ensures even cooking, and is a good choice for smaller game birds when every bit of tasty meat counts. Here, fruity flavors come together on a Wildwood Grilling cherry plank.

Total Time: 45-60 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes (brining: up to 24 hours)
Cook Time: ~30 minutes (variable by grill)
Servings: 1-2 people


  • 1 Pheasant or Grouse, plucked whole and brined
  • 1-2 Cup Chokecherry Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Sumac
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Pinch of Harissa


Chef's Tip

Hank Shaw has some great tips about plucking game birds efficiently, which can be found here. I use this chokecherry syrup recipe, without the almond extract. Frozen berries could work as long as they’re on the tart side.


  1. Soak your Wildwood Grilling cherry plank in warm water for at least 15 minutes. Preheat your grill.
  2. Remove the whole-plucked bird from it’s brine and gently pat dry. Use the shears to remove the feet, then to cut down both sides of the bird’s backbone. Remove the
    spine and place the bird on a flat, steady surface. Use the heels of your hands to press down on each side, near the wings. This will break the breastbone and flatten the bird.
  3. Mix the spices and salt well and apply liberally by hand to the entire bird. Remove the grilling plank from the water and place the bird on top of it, centering the
    latter as best as you can to maximize contact with the plank (you can use two planks, if you prefer).
  4. Once the bird and plank are on the grill, use a basting brush to cover the breast liberally with the chokecherry syrup. As it’s cooking, brush more syrup on a few more
    times—not so frequently you disrupt the cooking by cooling the grill, but often enough to give it a nice red color and a candied appearance.
  5. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bird’s thickest portions, which will likely be the center of the breast and the thigh near the bone. Like chicken, aim for an internal temperature of ~165°F for food safety, but remove the bird and plank from the grill as soon as that internal temperature is reached.
  6. After the bird has set for a few minutes, use a knife to carve or shears to cut it in half or quarters.
  7. One pheasant serves two people. A grouse will feed one very hungry person. Brush your serving with one more round of chokecherry syrup and eat up!

*Keep a spray bottle of water handy in case of flare-ups.

Used in this recipe:

Cherry Grilling Plank

Introducing Wildwood Grilling Pro Liz Lynch!

Liz’s Pro Page is in the works still, check back soon!

Liz grew up in New Jersey, about an hour and a half outside of New York City, as the only child of two parents who loved good eats and good travels. Delicious food at all price points, from all corners of the globe has been a cornerstone of her life from a very young age. Now, as an “adult-onset hunter” Liz remains curious about the ethics of hunting for her own food. She looks forward to sharing wild game-focused recipes to suit budgets and kitchens of any and all sizes.