Some people do not like it when you can see that the meat or fish you are eating came from an animal or fish. Well, until science comes up with a better solution it always does! Just looking at a clean, preferably square, piece of meat won’t change that. On the contrary, I like to use the full animal and make the most of it. The bones etc. carry a lot of flavor that should not be wasted. For a dinner party I bought a pheasant and used all of it.
First I cut off the breast fillets and the legs. You can also ask your butcher to do this for you.
First I cut up the carcass into some pieces and soaked them in cold water to remove any blood.
Then I added cold water to barely cover the bones and brought it slowly to a simmer without breaking into a boil. I removed any scum that came to the surface and let it simmer uncovered for 3 hours.
After that I added chopped carrots, celery, onion, a bay leave, some pepper corns, a few sprigs of thyme and a glass of red wine and let it simmer uncovered for another hour.
Then I sieved the stock and let it simmer for another hour to reduce the volume and increase the flavor. The stock was now ready to be used for the other two dishes.
The legs I rubbed with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sealed into a sous-vide bag with a few sprigs of thyme. I then cooked them sous-vide for 5 hours on 75C/167F. To get even more of a confit style you could cook it for 10 hours or more, but I did not have time for that this time.
When the leg was cooked, I added the juices from the vacuum bag to the stock in the pan (would be a waste to throw away!), took the meat from the legs and shredded the meat in the food processor with an egg, some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, some freshly grated nutmeg, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few table spoons of the concentrated stock. I then put the filling in a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and let it firm for a bit in the fridge. I made pasta dough and ravioli according to these instructions using 1 egg and 100 grams of flour for a filling made of the 2 legs of 1 pheasant.
I served the ravioli with the stock (mounted with butter), some fresh thyme leaves and some freshly grated parmigiano on warm plates.
To mount a sauce with butter, take it off the heat and quickly whisk some very small pieces of cold butter into it. The sauce will thicken somewhat and it will also get a nice shine.
Breast fillets: smoked
The breast fillets I rubbed with salt and freshly ground black pepper and some olive oil, and then I smoked it in a hot smoker until an electronic meat thermometer indicated 55C/131F. I sliced it and served the smoked pheasant with sauerkraut sauteed in butter and a bit of the stock, mounted with butter (not in the photo).
Both pheasant ravioli and smoked pheasant with sauerkraut went great with this 1996 Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru “Les Charmes”. Many other pinot noir-based wines from a cold climate with modest use of new oak will do as well.