Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pheasant Confit on Wild Mushroom Risotto

We had a bountiful pheasant hunt in 2009 (you can read about it here*) but didn’t manage to get through all of the little white packages in the freezer before we went again in 2010.

These frozen treasures made the trip to Smallish Small City with us and we vowed anew to make sure we made a dent in the freezer baskets of pheasant before the 2011 season. Unfortunately – for this task anyway – our favorite preparation for pheasant turns out to be a great way to stretch an ingredient. Inspired by a dish we had at a local wild game & wine dinner, we braise and shred the pheasant, mix it with corn and roasted poblano chiles, add a little cream, wine and stock, and serve it on pasta.

Well, it tastes fine...
We used up a few more birds in an experimental canning of the pasta sauce, thinking it would be an easy-to-fix meal after a cold day of duck hunting (it turned out tasty, but not pretty in the jar). If you’ve checked out the 2010 link (above) you know the buttermilk fried pheasant turned out well, too.

A few days ago I was searching for something slightly different to go on the grill with our newly harvested eggplant and thought perhaps that buttermilk soak might work again for pheasant on the grill. So the freezer pheasant count dropped by three; they were cleaned & breasted, the bones and scraps went into the stock pot, and the legs… hum… what does one do with perfectly lovely game bird legs that are too nice for the stock pot? That’s right… confit them!

Confit is a technique for preserving meat (usually goose or duck legs): the meat is salted (with spices) for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator;

then rinsed and gently cooked in fat. The cooked meat is stored in its fat in the refrigerator until needed;

That's actually confited quail , but you get the idea.

then reheated (often until crispy) and served on salads, in cassoulet, etc. In our case, we served the pheasant confit on a wild mushroom risotto made last year's boletus barrowsii and fresh sage. We were quite pleased with the pheasant, the slightly gamey taste was nicely balanced with the herbs and the texture was firm, not dry or stringy.

Risotto in the pot.

Okay, maybe it was a bit of an overkill. Even using the pheasant stock in the risotto, it took a lot of pheasant to stand up to the mushrooms in any given bite. It was all delicious but the combination didn't do justice to the pheasant. Well... there are five more confited legs in the 'fridge so the experiments will continue.

* and Disclaimer: That's the blog of the erudite and dashing MDMNM, husband, missed in the blogosphere (and in the kitchen) as work devours his life for a while.

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