Game Pie using Pheasant.

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A brace of birds is usual payment for working your dogs on a shoot.

The brace of pheasant I used for this pie were birds I received as payment for working my dogs on a shoot last Friday. They had hung too long for me as roasting birds so I decided to use the breasts and legs to make a game Pie.

After preparing the birds set them aside, turn the oven on to preheat  and make the pastry. Regular shortcrust pastry is fine. I used 12 oz self-raising flour to 6 0z full fat butter. Set aside to rest in a cool place.

Meanwhile chop an onion and at least 2 cloves of garlic. Peel and chop into fairly small pieces 2 potatoes.

Melt a generous knob of butter on a pan and add in the pheasant joints to brown. Remove from the heat to cool slightly and add in the onion and garlic to soften in the juices. Also add some chilli flakes, salt, pepper and Lea and Perrins Worchester sauce ( invaluable ingredient)…

Remove the onion and add a carton of the small bacon pieces from Lidl. These are great as they come ready chopped, have plenty of rind and are slightly smoked.

Shred the meat into smallish pieces and add it and the onion mix to the bacon pieces. Pour in a generous slug of Tawny Port and about 300mls of chicken or pheasant stock. Turn the heat down and allow the sauce to reduce slightly.

Par boil the potatoes.

Line a deep pie dish with some of the pastry and once the potatoes are ready add them to the meat mix and pour everything into the pastry lined pie dish.

Cover with a lid of pastry, glaze with some melted butter and place in the pre-heated oven at 180 degrees celcius for about an hour.

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The true test of a great pie is will it hold shape the next day??

Remove from the oven and serve with a suitable French Red Wine. There will be quite an excess of juices left when serving hot straight from the oven.

Of course the true  test of a good Game pie is the following day when all of those excess juices have soaked into the pastry crust and the layers hold their shape when cut through….it did 🙂 and my recommendation for today’s cold pie is a deliciously cold bottle of Jarv’s homemade Apple Cider made using some of the apples from our own trees. Bliss….

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Jarv’s homemade cider.

Roast pheasant.

The greatest pleasure I get from hunting is being able to bring home the bird and preparing it for the table. Nothing is more synonomus with Winter than roast pheasant.

The following is how I prepare a roast pheasant dinner.

Gathering the bag.

I hang the birds for 5 days in a cool place. Hang for longer if you prefer a gamier flavour.

Decant a nice bottle of red.

Pluck  the feathers taking care not to tear the skin. This normally takes me an hour..be prepared for a mess of feathers. Its a good idea to wear an apron.

Taste the wine to make sure it’s coming to room temperature…

Once the birds are plucked, remove the innards, heads and wings below the knuckle also remove the feet below the knuckle. Make sure to wash your hands before consuming more wine as the flavours don’t mix well.

Plucked and cleaned out, ready for dressing.

Two pheasant will easily feed four adults.Massage the outside of the birds in olive oil.

In the bottom of the roasting tin, place some sausages, rosemary, chopped carrots, an onion, three or four cloves of garlic and some celery.

Fill the cavity of the birds with two peeled oranges.

Season well.

Cover the birds with tinfoil for the first half hour of cooking then remove foil to allow birds to finish. Cook for one and a half hours in a moderate oven about 180 degrees. Relax with a glass of wine and favourite game cookery book to plan next meal…

Ready to serve!

Serve with roast potatoes, ( cooked by husband ) a selection of vegtables and the remaining bottle or two of red in front of a nice open fire and remember a cook should never have to drink and drive!

The carcass can be then used to make a base stock for soup which is perfect with a light white…enjoy!