Adapted from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
This is an easy method for preserving and eating the legs of upland game birds such as pheasants, grouse, partridges or quail. Confit is the French method of preserving and jarring meat, after it in its own fat until it is very tender. This is a modified sous vide method, which speeds up the cooking time and it uses less fat than submerging the pheasant legs in 4-5 cups of duck fat, which is the traditional method for French duck confit.
Here we use olive oil for the fat, but you could also use lard or butter. Don’t use duck fat, which is traditional with confit, because you don’t want a ducky flavor with upland birds.
Once made, this confit will last — sealed in its bag — for a month or it can also be frozen for up to a year.
• 6 legs and thighs of pheasants, grouse, quail or partridges
• 1/2 c. French sea salt
• 2 T. dried thyme
• 2 T. fresh ground black pepper
• 2 t. porcini mushroom powder by fine grinding dried mushrooms in a mill
• 1 c. olive oil, lard or butter (don’t use the traditional duck fat for this recipe)
This recipe works best using a vacuum sealer, but alternative directions are at the end.
1. Mix the salt, thyme, black pepper and porcini powder together. You make porcini powder by buzzing dried porcini mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder into a powder.
2. 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 no more than 24 hours, or as little as 6 hours. The longer you go, the saltier it will get — and the longer it will preserve.
3. The next day, rinse off all the legs and thighs, then dry well. Put on a rack to dry further while you make the vac-bags.
4. Make two vacuum bags each large enough to hold 3 legs or wings. Put a little olive oil into the bottom of each.
5. Add the pheasant legs, then divvy up the rest of the oil between the two bags.
6. Seal the bags and and place in a large pot (the largest you have) two-thirds filled with water that is somewhere around 170-180 degrees, which is below a simmer.
7. Poach the legs for 4-8 hours, flipping every half hour or so if they float, which they probably will. Young, tender birds need only 4 hours, old pheasants will need as much as eight hours.
8. Remove the bags from the water put them on a rack to cool and dry. When they’re cool, store in the fridge.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A VACUUM SEALER:
• Rinse the cure off as above, then pat dry very, very well.
• Totally submerge in oil — you will need 4-5 cups — and put, uncovered, in an oven set on “warm,” or not hotter than 200 degrees. Alternatively, you can do this on a stovetop with a weak burner set on low, or with a flame tamer. Watch that the oil never sizzles.
• Cooking time will be about the same.
• When you are done, filter the oil through cheesecloth.