As I was dreaming up how to make a 4 year old peacock taste good, I knew right away some of it would be made into confit. There’s a transformation that happens with meat with bones in it or ribbons of fat after it’s been seasoned and poached slowly in lard at a low temperature that turns meat into the food of the gods.
Traditionally confit is most known for being done with duck and poultry, but it’s become my go-to method for any piece of meat that’s lean and has a bone or two in it, from boar shoulder to squirrel legs.
Earlier this year I changed the way more than a few people feel about rabbit legs-one of the most difficult pieces of meat to make well that I’ve cooked. Under cook them they’re tough, over cook them they’re tough, braise them they’re soft, but dry. Confit was how we made it shine, it came out tender, almost falling off the bone and not at all dry tasting.
Poultry legs, especially wild ones are dying to be made into confit and like I said before in my recipe for goose and pheasant confit, if you just breast out the birds and throw away the legs, you’re really doing a disservice to the animals.
The thigh of a peacock is large, a bit smaller than a turkey, plenty enough to serve one hungry person for a meal. You could serve entire legs too which would look really impressive on a plate like goose, but I was by myself and only wanted a thigh for the recipe here.
Peacock Thigh Confit With Chanterelles and Leeks
For the peacock confit
- 2 peacock thighs or whole legs, skin on
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- A few sprigs of fresh herbs: I like sage, thyme, rosemary and bay, if I have them
- A few fresh cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
- Rendered lard, enough to completely cover the thighs (if you don’t have access to lard you can substitute cooking oil in a pinch)
For the leeks and chanterelles
- 3 ounces fresh, small chanterelles, cleaned
- 1/8 cup dry white wine
- 1 large leek, tender green and white parts only, halved lengthiwise and cut into 1 inch squares
- 1.5 cups peacock stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme, optional
First make the confit
The day before hand, season the peacock thighs aggressively with salt and pepper, (roughly 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 tsp pepper) then place into a bag with the herbs that you’ve gently bruised with the back of a knife, and the crushed cloves of garlic. Allow the legs to marinate overnight for 12-24 hrs, the longer the better.
The next day, reheat the oven to 275, then put the peacock legs, herbs and garlic into a baking dish, then completely cover the legs with fat or oil. Cover the baking dish, then cook for 2-3 hours, or until the meat yields easily when poked with a cake tester. Remove the peacock legs and allow to cool to room temperature on the counter. If you’re using whole legs, use a pliers to remove all of the pin bones from the drumstick. Put the legs back into the fat and refrigerate so the fat forms a complete seal, no bones or meat should be poking out of the fat at all. If no air is touching any of the meat, the confit will be fine for months kept under refrigeration, but if you keep it that long without enjoying it, there’s something wrong with you.
Finishing and plating
To re-heat the confit, gently melt the pan with the lard in a 250 degree oven until you can remove the legs. Increase the heat of the oven to 300 degrees. Heat a saute pan big enough to fit the confit in skin side down with a tablespoon of the fat. when the pan is hot and nearly smoking, add the confit skin side down, then put in the oven until just hot throughout roughly 10-15 minutes.
Heat one tablespoon of the butter in a wide saute pan, add the chanterelles and cook until the butter is just starting to brown, don’t put too much color on them, you want the finished sauce to be blonde and light, not brown. Add the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes more, just until translucent. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes more, then add the stock and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the liquid in the pan is reduced by half.
Meanwhile, take the confit out of the oven and put it on the burner if the skin needs more color or crispness. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan with the leeks and mushrooms, reduce until about 1/4 -1/2 cup remains and the sauce in the pan is slightly thickened like loose gravy, add the thyme. Double check the seasoning of the leeks and sauce, adjust as needed, then divide the leeks, mushroooms and sauce evenly between two pre-heated dinner plates, top with a crispy peacock thigh and serve immediately.