Here is a first course I did a little while ago for a lunch party that I haven't gotten around to posting until now. The inspiration came from two different dishes I had in England from two different restaurants.  I had this great carrot dish with fresh cheese and onion in London and was trying to recreate similar flavors using different ingredients and spices.  The other dish I was pulling from was a beet dish and the presentation of it.  I wanted to take the flavors into a north African direction with influences of french.  I am always trying to find new ways of working with root vegetables or presenting them.  That in the culinary world I think is the biggest challenge for most chef's.  How can I present it differently? Flavor it differently? Change the texture?  It is a constant battle that seems never ending but also gives and endless canvas for chefs.  

Recipe

Pheasant Confit

4 Pheasant legs

3 cups of duck fat

1/2 onion

1 carrot

1 sprig of rosemary and thyme

3 garlic cloves

Salt and Pepper

2 very small rutabagas cut into 1/8ths

2 small turnips medium diced

8 cippolini onions roasted and peeled

2 tbsp of harissa spice

2 tbsp of ras al hanout

1/2 cup of curry oil

3 tbsp of olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup of fromage blanc

1/4 cup of baby arugula leaves

For the Pheasant confit

This has to be done at least a day in advance.  The first day take the pheasant legs and season them aggressively with salt and pepper.  Place them in a plastic bag and let them cure overnight.  The next day place the pheasant legs in a small pot and add, onions, carrot, garlic, herbs and duck fat.  Bring the duck fat to a boil and turn down to a very low simmer and place the lid on top.  You can either cook the pheasant legs the rest of the way on top of the stove or you can place in a 250 degree oven for about 3 hours.  Cook very slow until the meat is about to fall off the bone.  Let it cool to room temperature and then take the pheasant legs out of duck fat if serving right away and let them drain off the excess fat.  Otherwise keep the pheasant legs in the fat until ready to use.  If the duck fat is completely covering the pheasant legs it will last up to 3 months.

For the Vegetables.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Take the small rutabagas and peel them.  Then cut them into quarters.  If the quarters look very big go ahead and cut them into 1/8ths.  Place the rutabagas in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, harissa, salt, and pepper.   Toss them so that they are all evenly coated and place them on a sheet pan to roast.  ( I like to line my pans with parchment or foil for easy clean up)  Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until tender.  Take them out and keep warm

For the cippolini's simply toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil and place on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes.  Let the onions cool and then peel.  Once cooled quarter them and set aside until ready to use. 

For the turnips,

Peel the turnips and medium dice them.  Place in a bowl with olive oil, ras al hanout, salt, and pepper.   Place them on sheet pan and roast for 25 minutes or until tender.  Take them out and set aside.

To plate

In a cast iron skillet or non stick pan add a few tbsp of duck fat.  Place the pheasant legs skin side down in the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes and then place in the oven for about 10 minutes.  You want the skin to be extra crispy.  Then take the a saute pan and add the onions and turnips together heat through and season with salt and pepper.  Then take a spoon full of fromage blanc and place on the plate.  Take two pieces of the rutabagas and stand them up at both ends of the cheese.  Place 3 turnips and 2 pieces of cippolini onions in the middle.  Take the bone and tendons out of the pheasant leg and place on top of the vegetables.  Drizzle the dish with curry oil and garnish with a few sprigs of arugula.  Serve this for a great start to a wonderful meal!

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