Pheasant pie with stuffing balls
- October 2010
- Serves 8
- Takes 1 hour 5 minutes to make, 2 hours 15-20 minutes to cook, plus cooling
This game pie recipe may be a labour of love but its aroma and taste is worth the wait.
- 47.2g (22.1g saturated)
- 56.8g (6g sugar)
Based on 8
- 3 plump, oven-ready pheasants
- 50g butter, plus 1 tbsp
- 200g smoked bacon lardons
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 35g plain flour, plus 1 tbsp
- 600ml game, chicken or beef stock
- 250ml red wine
- 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
- 1 tsp juniper berries, bruised
- 225g carrots, sliced
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
For the stuffing balls
- 50g butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 50g rindless streaky bacon, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
For the pastry
- 450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 115g each chilled butter and lard, cut into small pieces
- Cut each pheasant into quarters through the bone and season each quarter lightly. Heat a large, flameproof casserole over a medium heat, add the butter and sauté in batches until lightly browned on both sides. Lift out onto a plate using a slotted spoon. Add the bacon lardons to the casserole and fry until crisp and golden, then add the onion and fry for 5 minutes more.
- Stir in the flour, then gradually stir in the stock, red wine, redcurrant jelly and juniper berries. Bring to the boil, stirring. Return the pheasant to the casserole, pushing the pieces well down into the liquid. Cover and leave to simmer gently for 1 hour.
- Lift the pheasant pieces out of the casserole and set aside to cool. Add the carrot and celery to the liquid, then simmer part-covered for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid.
- Meanwhile, remove the pheasant meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Carefully skim off any excess fat from the liquid. Mix the 1 tbsp butter with the 1 tbsp flour to make a paste. Whisk it into the liquid, bit by bit, until the sauce is thickened (you might not need it all). Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the meat. Season to taste. Spoon into a 2.5 litre, 6cm deep pie dish, push a pie funnel into the centre of the mixture, then allow to cool.
- For the stuffing balls, melt the butter in a small pan, add the onion, then cook gently until soft but not browned. Add the bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes. Leave to cool, then stir in the thyme leaves, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, parsley, some seasoning and just enough egg to bind the mixture. Set the remaining egg aside. Shape the stuffing mixture into walnut-size balls. Arrange over the top of the pie filling so that they will support the pastry lid.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a food processor, add the butter and lard and process until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Tip into a large mixing bowl, add 5-6 tbsp cold water and mix with a round-bladed knife until the mixture comes together into a ball.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Roll out, again on a lightly floured surface, until it overhangs the pie dish by 2.5cm all around. Cut a thin strip of pastry from around the edge, stick it to the rim of the dish using beaten egg, then brush with a little more egg. Cut a small cross in the centre of the lid to let the pie funnel poke through. Lift the pastry lid onto the dish and press the pastry together to seal. Trim away any excess, then crimp the edge with your fingers to give an attractive finish. Brush the top with the remaining beaten egg. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is hot.
Freeze this pie with the pastry uncooked. Defrost, then bake as in the recipe.
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