The Best Fall Salad
In Minnesota we love to hunt. I store plenty of the confit birds (covered in their fat) in the fridge and crisp halves or quarters as needed, served with salads, on root vegetable mash, in tacos with tomatillo salsa or as a hash with fried egg for breakfast (I love that one). Try this salad. It makes a great fall luncheon or Sunday dinner entrée if you want something easy to throw together.
Pheasant Confit Salad
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
- Two 3-pound pheasants, backbones and wing tips removed
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 6 cups schmaltz (rendered chicken fat; see Note) (48 ounces)
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups mixed greens, such as frisée, watercress and mâche
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 fennel bulb—halved lengthwise, cored and thinly shaved on a mandoline
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 1/4 cup Marcona almonds, chopped
Confit the Pheasants
In a large shallow baking dish, mix the garlic with the thyme, rosemary and herbes de Provence. Add the pheasants and rub them all over with the garlic mixture. Splay the pheasants in the dish, skin side down. Mix the brown sugar with the salt and sprinkle over the pheasants. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 225°. Using a damp paper towel, wipe the salt mixture off the pheasants. Rinse out the baking dish and return the pheasants to it, skin side down. In a large saucepan, melt the schmaltz. Carefully pour the schmaltz over the pheasants. Tent the dish with foil and bake the pheasants for 6 hours; the meat should be very tender. Remove the dish from the oven and let the pheasants cool in the schmaltz.
Pull the meat off the bones and tear it into large shreds. Transfer half of the pheasant confit to a container, cover with schmaltz and refrigerate for another use.
Make the Salad
In a medium skillet, simmer the orange juice, white wine vinegar, lemon juice and sugar to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until syrupy, 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pour it into a medium bowl and whisk in the mustard and cider vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time, until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the pheasant confit and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the greens with the tomatoes, fennel and scallions. Add the crisp pheasant and half of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Mound the salad on plates, sprinkle with almonds and serve, passing any remaining vinaigrette separately.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.