This recipe is from our MeatEater Cooks series. Click here to watch Cal and I cook up this special pheasant dish.
While nearly every hunter knows how to deal with pheasant breasts, many find the legs and thighs of the bird to be a serious culinary challenge. This Alsatian version of the more common “coq au vin” uses the acidity of white wine to tenderize the legs and speed up the cooking process. The key to success is allowing the meat to rest a while—this ensures it remains moist and that the sauce thickens appropriately.
- 8 pheasant leg quarters, skinned, bones intact
- 8 ounces smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
- 1 cup small red potatoes, whole
- 1 carrot, peeled and large diced
- 1 stalk celery, large diced
- 1 sweet onion, large diced
- 1 (750 ml) bottle dry Riesling wine
- 1 qt. dark chicken or pheasant stock
- 1 cup crème fraiche
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 lemon, halved
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 bunch chives, sliced thin
- 1 bunch tarragon, minced
- 2 tbsp. safflower oil
- All-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Fresh bread for serving
Also works with
- Place a heavy-bottom, cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon to the pan while it is still cold and allow it to begin browning. As the pan warms up and the bacon begins to brown, lower the heat to medium to prevent burning. Once the bacon is golden brown and has decreased in size, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate.
- Season the pheasant legs with salt and pepper then lightly dust with flour. Add safflower oil to the pan of bacon fat. Place the legs in the pan in a single layer and allow them to brown on one side. Flip them over once they are golden brown and allow the other side to brown. Once both sides are browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add mushrooms to the pan of fat and brown. Stir occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. Once they’re finished releasing their water, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the carrots, onion, and celery to the pan, along with a pinch of salt. Allow this mixture to sweat down until the onions are fully translucent and the edges of the carrots are no longer sharp but rounded off. Add the potatoes and bay leaves to the pan and allow them to cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour the entire bottle of Riesling into the pan and allow it to come to a boil. Allow this mixture to boil for 3 minutes before pouring in the stock and adding a large pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring back to a boil and taste to ensure the liquid is seasoned well. Add the pheasant legs back to the pan, cover, and place in a 350°F oven for 3 hours.
- Once the 3 hours is up, remove the pan from the oven and test the doneness of the pheasant by piercing the leg with a wooden skewer. If the skewer passes through with little resistance, the meat is tender. Allow this mixture to sit covered on the stovetop for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 hours before moving on to the final step. If you wish it to sit longer, you can refrigerate the entire pan overnight.
- Mix together the crème fraiche, heavy cream, tarragon, and chives in a small bowl. Bring the pheasant mixture back up to heat, but do not allow it to boil. Add the crème fraiche mixture and the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Warm through, add the butter, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve the dish in a deep bowl with plenty of sauce and some warm bread.