To “confit” something, is to cure it in salt and then cook it slowly in fat. It makes the meat buttery and fall off the bone. Is there anything that sounds more glorious than that?
It is common to see it done with duck legs, and other muscular cuts of meat, but here I’ve done it with a slew of pheasant legs that I brought back from my women’s Adventure Getaway last December. Try this! They last quite a while once they’ve been preserved and cooked in this way and are delicious warm or served room temperature on salads.
For this recipe you’ll need 6 pheasant legs, the zest of an orange, cloves, fresh thyme, juniper berries, salt and pepper, and grape seed oil. You could swap the grape seed oil for olive oil or duck fat if you prefer.
You’ll need a baking dish just large enough that your pheasant legs fit snugly. Any excuse to use my heart pan, isn’t it lovely?!
The first step in making a confit is to cure the meat. So we’ll start by pouring a half cup of salt evenly over the legs.
Add about 5 sprigs of fresh thyme to the dish.
Next, grate and sprinkle the zest of one small orange on top.
Getting prettier by the second…
Then you’ll crush and add roughly 5 juniper berries.
Time to get down and dirty. Rub the cure evenly into every nook and cranny of the legs. Then place the legs in the fridge to cure for at least six hours, I left mine overnight. The longer they’re allowed to cure, the saltier the meat will be and the longer the legs will be preserved.
After the meat has been allowed to cure, rinse the legs and the baking dish thoroughly. Then return the legs to the rinsed dish.
Completely submerge the legs in grape seed oil. This is the essential step in any confit, but especially with such a lean bird like pheasant. Cooking the bird in oil or fat helps to break down some of those tough tendons, making the meat much more tender…and oh-so delicious!
Patience is a virtue…bake at 200 degrees for four to six hours. Once the meat is falling off the bone, it’s done!
Strain the oil, and save it for future use, like another confit!
You can serve the pheasant warm out of the oven. Or shred room temperature over a green salad. Dive. In.
- 6 Pheasant legs
- 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
- Zest of 1 orange
- 5 Cloves
- 5 Sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 5 Juniper berries crushed
- 4 liquid cups of Grape seed oil Or Olive oil or duck fat
- Place pheasant legs snugly in baking dish
- Add salt evenly on top
- Add the orange zest, cloves, thyme, juniper berries, and pepper
- Rub seasoning evenly into every surface of pheasant legs
- Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, the longer the legs are allowed to cure the saltier they will be, and the longer they will preserve
- Once the cure is finished, rinse the legs and baking dish
- Return rinsed legs to baking dish and cover with the grape seed oil
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Cook for 4 to 6 hours, or until the meat falls off of the bone
- Strain and save oil for later use
- Serve legs warm or room temperature on a salad