This is the essence of English game cooking and historically, eaten with just as much pleasure in the poacher's cottage or the squire's manor house. In the 1960s I met Dame Barbara Cartland and this was the pie her butler served the first time I had lunch in her house.
Making pastry can be a chore, so use ready-made and for a large pie you'll need a funnel to stop the pastry sinking, but I make this in the soup bowls in the picture.
1 kg/ 2lb 4oz mixed cubed game – ask your butcher to prepare it for you using pheasant, partridge, grouse, rabbit, venison, wild boar, quail, pigeon, whatever is available.
5 tbsp flour seasoned with salt, pepper, chopped thyme and rosemary
4 thick rashers of smoked bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
600 ml/ 1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
300 ml / half pint good red wine – not the cheapest plonk!
300 g / 10 oz mushrooms thickly sliced
100 g / 3½ oz unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 pack puff pastry
2 bay leaves
1 bouquet garni
Heat oil and butter and sweat onion, mushrooms and bacon until lightly coloured. Put the seasoned flour in a large plastic bag, add all the meat and shake till completely coated. Increase heat; add game and stir, browning all over. Add stock, wine and herbs, cover and simmer for 90 minutes, adding more stock if required.
Half an hour before serving, reheat and pour into six individual ovenproof dishes. Heat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 5, roll out the pastry, cut thin strips to put round the edge of the dishes, brush with water then add lids, pressing down with a fork to seal. Make two 1” slits in the pie crust, brush with milk and bake till pastry is crisp and golden brown.
Some of my books...
- Superfoods, Superjuices, Superhealth
- Eat Well Live Longer
- Superfood Pocketbook
(100 Top Foods for Health)
- The Omega 3 Cookbook
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