- January 2012
- Serves 6
- Takes 30 minutes to make, 1 hour 10 minutes to cook, plus cooling
This delicious madeira and juniper-infused pheasant pie has a melt in in the mouth pastry that makes it a star dish for a special meal on Christmas Eve.
- 44.1g (18.3g saturated)
- 39.4g (3.3g sugars)
- 3 pheasants, meat removed and bones discarded (or used to make stock), or 8 pheasant breasts, cut into large chunks
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 100g streaky bacon, finely chopped
- 200g button mushrooms
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 15g butter
- 100ml Madeira
- 250ml chicken stock
- 4-5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
- A few fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 1 medium free-range egg, beaten
For the pastry
- 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 25g semolina
- 100g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
- 1 medium free-range egg yolk
- To make the pastry, sift the flour and semolina with a good pinch of salt, then rub in the butter with your fingers (or pulse in a food processor) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Quickly mix in the egg yolk and just enough cold water to bring the dough together (about 1-2 tbsp), then shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill.
- Dust the pheasant chunks in 2 tbsp of the flour, seasoned. Heat a little of the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Brown the pheasant in batches, adding more oil if needed, then set aside in a bowl.
- Add the bacon to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until almost crisp, then add the mushrooms and fry for a couple minutes more. Remove the mushrooms and bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside with the pheasant. Add 1 tbsp oil to the pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or until softened. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl.
- Melt the butter in the pan and stir in the remaining tablespoon of flour. Slowly add the Madeira and stock, stirring continuously until it forms a smooth sauce. Add the juniper berries and thyme, then simmer for a minute or two, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Stir the sauce into the contents of the bowl and allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Spoon the cooled pheasant mixture into a 2 litre pie dish and season well. Nestle a pie bird (or several, if you want to re-create our calling-birds pie) into the centre of the dish.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is a little larger than the dish and the thickness of a pound coin. Brush the rim of the pie dish with a little water or milk, then cover the dish with the pastry, cutting a small slit to allow each pie bird or pie funnel to poke through, if using. If you don’t have any pie birds, cut 2 or 3 small slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape. Roughly trim the edges and crimp.
- Brush the pastry all over with beaten egg, then re-roll the trimmings and cut out small birds to decorate the pie (optional). Brush with more egg, then bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Serve with hot mashed potato and buttered peas.
If you can, buy whole birds and remove their meat (or ask your butcher to do it for you). You’ll reap the reward of the fuller flavoured dark leg meat.
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