Another great combination of Spring ingredients is asparagus and morels, they may even grow near each other in nature, which would be awesome to find. Since I was craving spring food, I splurged and bought some store bought asparagus since the farmer’s markets wont be providing any huge, monster Minnesota spears for a while yet.
Braising pheasant legs is a wonderful way to use up these parts of the bird that would possibly just get thrown away. Since you’re going to be cooking them in a moist environment, this is a wonderful way to use up some dried or fresh mushrooms as they make a wonderful gravy/type sauce, technically this would be called a veloute, or a stock bound with roux. My grandma has a favorite recipe for pheasant breast braised in golden mushroom soup, this is not far from that.
The polenta basically functions as a vehicle for you to eat everything else here, you could easily use some mashed potatoes, or a similar soft semolina recipe. Polenta is great since when it cools, it will hold its shape, then you can cut slices off of it the next day and fry them for breakfast.
Braised Pheasant Legs In Morel Sauce with Soft Polenta and Asparagus
Pheasant Legs in Morel Sauce
- 1/2 cup wine
- 6 cups chicken stock preferably homemade
- Flour as needed for dusting the pheasant legs
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1.5 oz Dried morels
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 8 Pheasant legs
- Cooking oil such as grapeseed or canola
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup polenta
- salt to taste
- 1 bunch of asparagus trimmed
- Salted water for cooking
Braised Pheasant Legs with Morels
- Heat up a pan large enough to fit all of the legs in with high sides.
- Season the pheasant legs with salt and pepper, then coat lightly with flour. Gently brown the pheasant legs, in oil in a pan, when they are nice and brown, add the wine, broth or water, morels, and cover the pot. Cook until the legs can be easily pierced in the middle of the knee joint. When the meat is nice and loose, but not falling apart, (about 1.5-2 hours), remove the legs from the pan and cool until you can handle them.
- Remove all of the little pin bones, they should slide out easily by now. See a picture example HERE.
- You should have about 5 cups of braising liquid left over, strain the liquid, season it to taste with salt and pepper and reserve.
- Add the pheasant legs back to the pan with the morel sauce and cover, keeping warm until it's time to serve.
- Heat the water with a tsp of salt until simmering. Slowly whisk in the polenta, when it begins to thicken, turn down the heat and whisk constantly.
- When you cannot whisk anymore, and the mixture is thickened, stir the polenta with a wooden spoon. From here you can just turn off the pan and let it cool while you prepare something else. The residual heat will be enough to cook the polenta through.
- Trim the woody ends from your asparagus and add to a pot of boiling salted water. If your asparagus are very large you may want to peel the ends of the stalks. Cook for about 30 seconds depending on size. Wild asparagus will take much longer if they are very large. Place a cup or so of polenta on each plate, top with a few spears of asparagus, then the braised pheasant legs and morel sauce, serve immediately.