Pheasant, Aegean Prune, Girolle & Chestnut Pie
The Game season and autumn is in full swing. The joys of walking in the woods on a crisp autumn day, seeing the chestnuts falling from the trees and a few pheasants prancing about.If you’re really lucky and look very carefully, you will see the wild mushrooms standing proud between the golden leaves.
It’s a warm and joyful sight. They say all good things come to those who wait, and I believe in that as I had to wait for the right time of the year to make this delicious winter warming autumn dish. I almost get a sense of celebration as I make this as it reinstates the respect for the treasures of the season.
This also brings back warm and wonderful memories of working as a young chef at the best restaurants that London had to offer during the late 1990s. I was most privileged to work in Mayfair and from mid September onwards with the colourful sight of the game hanging from the canopy in front of Allens the Butchers of Mayfair. It used to bring a smile to my face ,as I just knew that soon Chef would bring out the game and that meant fun.New recipes would be created and the latest techniques would be attempted.
Unfortunately Allens are no longer hanging their game from the canopy but luckily I am blessed with that image ingrained in my memory. I am truly privileged!
- 240g homemade rough puff pastry or good quality bought puff pastry
- 1 fresh pheasant
- 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, rough dice
- 1tbs sunflower oil
- 100g leeks, rough diced
- 150g small round shallots, peeled
- 200g fresh chestnuts, roasted and shells removed
- 50g butter
- 100g fresh girolle mushrooms, cleaned and dusted
- 100g Aegean Prunes soaked in 200ml cognac or Brandy
- 30g tomato puree
- salt and pepper
- 1 banana shallot, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed but keep skins on
- 1 medium carrot; cut in roughly 2cm long pieces
- ½ leek; cut the same size as the carrot
- 1 stick of celery; cut the same size as the carrot
- 6 of each white peppercorns and coriander seeds
- generous sprig of thyme and two fresh bay leaves
Remove the legs of the pheasant. Gently remove the breast from the carcase, keeping the skin attached. Keep the breast refrigerated until later. Ensure that the liver and lungs are removed from the carcase; chop the carcase in two smaller pieces.
Make the stock. Heat a large size stockpot, pot roast the pheasant carcase and legs in a small amount of sunflower oil until golden brown. Add the chopped shallots, leeks, carrot, celery, peppercorns and coriander seeds. Sauté until golden brown, add the thyme and bay leaf. Add cold water, enough to cover the bones and vegetables. Bring the stock to the boil, regularly remove the scum that rises to the surface and cook the stock over low heat, gently simmer for half an hour. Turn the heat off and let the stock infuse for about an hour. Pass the stock through a fine sieve layered with muslin cloth. Pick out the legs; pick the meat from the bones and flake in to smaller pieces, set aside and discard the bones and vegetables.
While the stock is boiling, roast the chestnuts, remove the shells and set aside. Soak the prunes in the cognac or brandy, bring to blood temperature 37°C in a small pan. Once softened drain the liquid, set aside and remove the stones from the prunes. Chop the prunes in to smaller pieces and set aside.
Once the stock is ready to use make the pie filling. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Sauté the girolle mushrooms until golden brown; remove from the saucepan and keep aside with the flaked leg meat. Return the saucepan to the heat and sauté the peeled round shallots, rough diced bacon and diced leeks until golden brown. Add seasoning and the tomato puree, cook for one minute stir well. Add the drained alcohol to deglaze the saucepan, cook for two minutes until thick. Add the sautéed girolles and flaked pheasant leg meat and 500ml of the drained pheasant stock; bring the sauce to the boil. Remove the pheasant breast from the fridge and poach the breast in the gently simmering sauce for 8 minutes. Remove the breast from the sauce and rest. Cook the sauce for a further 17 to 20 minutes over low heat, gently simmering. Add the diced prunes and crumble in the roasted chestnuts. This will thicken the sauce. Remove the pie filling from the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes.
Remove the skin from the pheasant breast and slice in 1cm thick slices. Select the pie dish, spoon half full with pie filling and arrange the pheasant slices, add more pie filling, let the filling cool completely.
Roll out the rough puff or puff pastry and cover the pie, glaze with egg wash and bake in a preheated oven at 175°C for 45 minutes.
Serves 4 people