Confit of Pheasant (or Duck or Pigeon!)
Most of us have heard of a confit, but what exactly is it? The word ‘confit’ comes from the French verb confire, which simply means to preserve and dates all the way back to the 12th century (and the days before refrigeration!). Confit usually refers to meat cooked slowly and at low temperatures in its own fat, and then preserved in that same grease, in a sealed jar.
But what to do with your confit? Confit is perfect for so many dishes. It’s indispensable in a French inspired game cassoulet, but it has many more uses. I think it tastes best when re-heated, even when added to a salad. In cold weather, I like to serve hot confit leg of pheasant on top of a creamy heap of celeriac mash with roasted pears.
6 pheasant legs
1/2 cup of coarse salt
Zest of 1 orange
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
5 juniper berries, crushed
4 tbsp brandy (optional)
700g of duck/goose fat
Pack the pheasants legs tightly into a baking dish and salt them all over.
Add the orange zest, thyme, cloves, crushed juniper berries and grated pepper to the dish, rubbing the ‘cure’ into the legs. Drizzle over the brandy if using.
Cover the dish with clingfilm and leave to marinate/cure in the fridge for at least 6 hours (you can leave them for longer or overnight depending how salty you like your confit).
Scrape the marinade from the pheasant pieces.
Heat the duck or goose fat in a heavy ovenproof casserole dish, then add the pheasant, making sure that it is completely submerged in the melted fat.
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F and transfer the covered casserole to the oven for 4-6 hours, until the meat is so tender, it almost falls of the bone
Remove from oven and cool uncovered.
Once the pheasant has cooled, place it in a clean ceramic dish with lid and strain over about half the melted fat.
Place it in the fridge to set – where it can be stored for up to one month.
To serve: scrape of the fat and roast in the oven until it is heated through and the skin is crisp and golden brown.
Find more inspiration in our recipes section.