A filling, festive and comforting dish. If you have any difficulty finding pheasant, note that this recipe is equally good with other poultry such as Guinea hen or partridge.
Rinse the beans in a colander. Place in a container and cover with water. Refrigerate overnight.
The following day, drain them and put the beans into a large pot. Fill the pot with water at least 2 inches above the beans. Heat on high and bring to a boil. Skim and add a whole onion studded with cloves, savory and bay leaves.
Reduce heat, cover and cook until the beans are tender but still whole. Remove from the heat, take out the onion and set aside uncovered to avoid overcooking the beans.
Meanwhile, remove the pheasant’s thighs and breasts using a small, sharp knife. Place in a bowl with half the herb blend. Salt and pepper generously. Set aside in a cool place.
Place the pheasant carcass in a pot. Barely cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Skim and let simmer on low heat for two hours. Strain the broth and set aside. Discard the carcass.
Cut the salt pork into nice chunks. Place in a cast iron or ceramic casserole. Chop the onion and add to the casserole alongside the remaining herbs and maple syrup. Grind mustard seeds finely and add to the pan. Mix well with a spoon.
Strain the beans, but keep the cooking juice for the time being. Place the beans into the casserole then add enough hot broth to cover completely. If necessary, add the cooking water from the beans. Mix gently with a large wooden spoon, then cover.
Place the casserole in the pre-heated 275 °F oven. Cook for 12 hours, or ideally overnight.
If you find the beans too dry after 12 hours of cooking, add a small amount of boiling water. Do not stir!
Gently insert the pheasant pieces on top of the beans. Using a spoon, sprinkle the top of each piece of meat with the fat that accumulates on the beans. Sprinkle the pheasant with maple sugar and continue cooking for another two hours.
Turn off the oven and let rest for another hour or two before serving.