These tacos have a wild side.
Homemade tortillas are on a whole different level from their store-bought siblings, especially when mixed with bacon fat and the green bite of fresh scallion. Don’t be intimidated—they’re fun to make and fairly simple. Stuff them with pheasant, top with homemade tomatillo salsa, and you have yourself a fantastic meal.
Pheasant ‘Tacos’ with Bacon-Fat Tortillas & Tomatillo Salsa
- 2 pheasants, split, back bones removed
- 1/4 cup fresh minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons kosher salt
- About a quart of rendered chicken fat
Bacon fat tortillas
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons bacon fat
- 1/4 cup minced scallions
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 pound tomatillos, cleaned and quartered
- 1 seranno chile, chopped
- 1 handful cilantro leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tablespoons mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 small white onion minced very very fine
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
Prepare the Pheasant
Rub the pheasants with the garlic, thyme, rosemary and herbes de provence. Lay bone side up in a non-reactive pan. Mix together brown sugar and kosher salt, sprinkle on pheasant. Let sit for 24 hours in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
Remove birds from rub, gently wipe off salt mixture with a damp towel and lay pheasants bone side up in another non-reactive pan (a standard size glass lasagna pan works great). Cover birds with rendered chicken fat (true schmaltz) available at any super market in the poultry aisle. It’s usually sold frozen, Empire brand is good, it takes a little over a quart. Tent the pan with aluminum foil and place in 225 degree oven for 6 hours.
Slice breast, shred legs and thighs. Pan crisp in a hot skillet and use with the salsa, garnish and tortillas below to make tacos.
Make the Salsa
Place the onions and salt in a large non-reactive bowl. Pulse all other ingredients in a food processor. Don’t over process. Combine the two mixtures. Use within 4 hours.
For the Tortillas
Whisk dry ingredients together in a work bowl. Mix in the fat using your hands until the dough is crumby and looks like meal. Add the water, scallions and mix until the dough comes together. Put dough on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and dough is bouncy and resilient. Roll dough with your hands into 6 pieces and roll each piece into a stubby rope. Cut each into five pieces and make 30 balls with your hands (you can make 24 larger tortillas or 20 big ones, but I like 30 small ones). Press them out between sheets of wax paper in a tortilla press or roll with a pin and cook on a plancha (or comal, or big flat top, or large skillet), preferably over the grill, but you can do it inside on your stove top too. Keep tortilla warm in a basket with a cloth and serve immediately when finished.
I like to garnish these tacos at the table with sliced avocado, crème fraiche, cilantro, pickled onions and lime