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Pheasant Confit

I use a modified sous vide method for this, as it uses less fat than submerging the pheasant legs in 4 to 5 cups of fat or oil. I save up chicken fat or pheasant fat and combine it with butter, but you could also use lard or olive oil. I don’t recommend using duck fat, which is traditional with confit, because I don’t want a ducky flavor with upland birds. But if this doesn’t bother you, go for it.

Pheasant Confit
Print Recipe
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time Passive Time
8 hours 12 hours
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time Passive Time
8 hours 12 hours
Pheasant Confit
Print Recipe
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time Passive Time
8 hours 12 hours
Servings
6 servings
Cook Time Passive Time
8 hours 12 hours
Ingredients
  • 6 whole legs and thighs of pheasant
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 whole zest of a lemon minced
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 cup olive oil, lard or butter
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. This recipe works best with a vacuum sealer. If you don’t have one, you should get one, as they are endlessly useful. But alternative directions are at the end. Mix the salt, thyme, black pepper and lemon zest together. Pack the pheasant legs with the mixture. Press it into the skin and exposed meat, and make sure every part has some on it. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, and no more than 24 hours. The longer you go, the saltier it will get — and the longer it will preserve.
  2. When you are done curing the legs, rinse them off, then pat dry with paper towels. Put on a rack to dry further while you make the vac-bags. Make two vacuum bags each large enough to hold 3 legs or wings. Put a little butter, lard or oil into the bottom of each; I add about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Add the pheasant legs and the bay leaves, then divvy up the rest of the fat between the two bags.
  3. Seal the bags and and place in a large pot (the largest you have) two-thirds filled with water that is somewhere around 170°F to 180°F, which is below a simmer; you need a large pot to keep the temperature stable – the smaller the pot, the faster the water temperature will change. Poach the legs for 4 to 8 hours, flipping every half hour or so if they float. Young, tender birds (or pen-raised birds) will need only 4 hours, old pheasants might need the full eight hours.
  4. Remove the bags from the water and plunge them into a large bowl of ice water. When they’re cool, store in the fridge.
  5. When you are ready to eat your confit, you will probably want to crisp it up. You can sear it in a pan, but that method spatters a lot. I prefer to roast the leg/thighs, skin side up, in a pan in a 400°F oven. No need to preheat the oven, just pop in the legs and cook until it is as crispy as you like, anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
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