Pheasant Legs with Pancetta Portobello Sauce

We are unabashed leg men.  While others focus almost exclusively on breasts, we've learned that by investing time and crafting technique it's hard to beat a fine spread of legs.

We're talking about bird legs, and in this case specifically...pheasant legs!  The secret to quickly becoming an unabashed leg man (or woman) is to plan your work and take the time to brown and braise the legs in advance before working into the main dish.  This recipe is enhanced with the saltiness of rendered pancetta and the earthiness of portobello mushrooms certain to change your opinion about legs.

What you'll need:

  • 6 pheasant legs
  • 4 ounces on pancetta cut in small cubes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 cups pheasant or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 8 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic fine diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

How to make it happen:

Season the pheasant legs with salt & pepper rubbing the seasonings into the meat.

Heat a large pan then render the pancetta until crisp.  Once crisp, remove the pancetta and reserve.  Next place the legs in the pancetta oil and brown every on both sides.  Once browned set the legs aside and reserve the pancetta oil in the pan.

In a large pot with a lid, place the legs on the bottom without stacking then add enough stock to come about 3/4 of the depth of the legs without submerging.  Cover the pot and braise over low heat for about 90 minutes until tender.

As the legs are approaching the end of the braising time, use medium heat to reheat the pancetta oil, and melt the butter.  Once the butter has melted add the mushrooms and sauté until soft.  Next add the shallots and garlic cooking until fragrant (about two minutes), then add the reserved pancetta, thyme, rosemary and sage.

Pour in the white wine to deflate the pan scraping up any browned particles and stirring until the liquid is reduced by half.

Take the legs from the braising pot, nestle them in the mushroom mixture, add one cup of the braising liquid, and simmer for 30 minutes until the liquid has been reduced by half.

Remove the legs to a plate, cover and keep warm.  Stir the heavy whipping cream and peas into the mushroom mixture and bring to a simmer just long enough for the sauce to thicken and the peas to heat through.

Spoon 1/3 of the mushroom mixture onto a plate, gently place two pheasant legs over the mixture, then drizzle with a tablespoon of the pan sauce.

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