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Pheasant confit


Recoil Rob
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I'm a bird hunter, primarily pheasants which are known to have tough legs with a lots of tendons. So much so, most hunters just take the breast meat.

A few years back I tried to confit some of the leg/thigh pieces, I used a couple of the D'Artagnan containers of duck fat mixed in with rendered pork fat. I was pleased with the results. The meat was nutty and falling off the bone, a bit bland and gray, but made some nice dinners and rilletes

Two years ago I saved about 20 leg/thigh joints and bought my duck fat from Hudson Valley Fois Gras.

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I live within a couple hundred miles so I was able to get a 7.5lb. tub, about 1 gal., of rendered duck fat UPS'd to me overnight for about $35.00. The confit turned out better, perhaps a little salty and one dimensional. I used the method from Polcyn & Ruhlman's "Charcuterie". I kept it covered in the fat for about 5 month in the back of the fridge after drawing off the clear juices from the bottom. We ate it gradually, sometimes by itself, a few pieces in cassoulet, some rillets.

After it was all eaten I strained the fat back into the tub and put it in the deep freeze.

Last week it was time to confit last years kill, approximately 12 lbs of pheasant legs/ thighs, close to 35 pieces.

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This time I used a little more spice, lots of garlic and bay leaf. I also added almost 2 tsps. of pink salt which "Charcuterie" recommended if planning to keep the confit longer than a month.

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I let it cure a full 48 hours then rinsed, patted dry and packed into a stainless container.

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I melted last years fat which already had some flavor in it and was just enough to cover the legs. I placed it in an electric oven set on warm, after two hours the temperature of the fat was taken with a laser type thermometer, it was right at 169˚K, perfect temperature for cooking.

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Last year I used a different oven that would only go down to 185˚F and the meat separated from the knuckles and crawled up the bone. After 8 hours of "poaching" at 169 I pulled a piece and it was perfect, just the right amount of salty spicy, nutty goodness. We had four pieces for dinner that night over an arugula salad with some crusty bread. Absolutely delicious, the thighs are meaty and it pulls right off the bone like good BBQ. The legs still have those tendons but all the meat just strips out fro between them.

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I removed the pink liquid from the bottom, packed the legs back into the SS container and covered all with melted fat, it is now aging in the back of my fridge, should be perfect for the holidays.

The little bit of pink salt did wonders for this batch. Last year, although tasty, the legs were an unappealing gray color. This year the meat stayed pink and much firmer, also due to the longer cure.

I have reduced the pink liquid, and clarified it. In "Charcuterie" Ruhlman & Polcyn say it ca be used in a vinaigrette. I tried that last year but wasn't impressed, any other recommendations for it's use?

I can't recommend Hudson Valley Fois Gras highly enough, quality products at a reasonable cost, and the fat was much more flavorful than the smaller containers. I needed some extra fat to cover my confit, I called and my tub was there the next day.

Edited by Recoil Rob (log)

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.

- Errol Flynn

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