This easy pheasant pasty recipe requires time and patience but no masterchef skills (and you could use bought pastry to simplify things up even more)
Bursting with flavour – gamey pheasant with root vegetables and potato, the crunch of the walnuts, all encased in herby shortcrust pastry – these meaty pasties are great served with buttery mash, peppery Savoy cabbage and a jug of onion gravy.
You could even put them into a pocket as a piece to eat on the hill, or as something substantial to add to the point-to-point picnic. If you are feeling adventurous they can be miniaturised with ease to make an unusual canape or drinks party fodder.
MAKES ABOUT 10 PASTIES (MEDIUM SIZED)
FOR THE SHORTCRUST PASTRY (OR USE READY-MADE)
- 110g (4oz) cold butter
- 170g (6oz) plain flour
- 1 large egg yolk
- Pinch mixed dried herbs
- Sea salt
[We found the quantities for the pastry somewhat scant. Suggest doubling the quantities so you have enough pastry, Ed.]
FOR THE FILLING
- 10g (1⁄2oz) unsalted butter
- 500g (1lb 2oz) pheasant breast and thigh meat, diced
- 50g (2oz) smoked bacon lardons, cut into 1cm (1⁄2in) strips
- 150g (5oz) blanched root vegetables (potato, carrot, swede, and so on), diced
- 20g (3⁄4oz) onion, finely diced and softened in a little oil
- 50g (2oz) walnut halves
- 5g (1⁄4oz) dried mixed herbs
- 5g (1⁄4oz) crushed juniper
- 1 measure port
- 200ml (7fl oz) game stock
- 5g (1⁄4oz) cornflour
- Salt and pepper or the egg-wash
- 4 egg yolks
- Dried herbs and poppy seeds to sprinkle
To make the pastry, cut the butter into small pieces.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the texture is similar to small breadcrumbs.
Add egg yolk, herbs, salt and a splash of cold water, and combine to form a stiff dough.
Mix thoroughly but don’t over-work it.
Put it in the fridge and leave it to cool for about 30 minutes.
For the filling, put a little butter in a thick-bottomed pan and fry the pheasant, bacon, root veg and onion until golden- brown.
Add the walnuts, herbs and juniper, stir thoroughly to colour, and then add the port and stock.
Bring to the boil, and simmer for about five minutes.
Mix the cornflour with a little cold water and use this to thicken the sauce, then check the seasoning and leave to cool.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a 50p piece, then cut into 15cm-20cm (6in-9in) discs with a round cutter (or cut round a side plate).
Glaze the rim of each disc with a little egg-wash, and then place two or three dessertspoonfuls of the cooled pheasant mixture in the centre. Lift the sides of each pastry disc to make a purse-like pasty shape, and crimp the edges with your index finger and thumb to seal it.
Brush egg-wash all over the pasties, sprinkle them with a little more dried herbs and poppy seeds, and then place them on a lightly greased baking tray and chill again for about 20 minutes to set.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Put the pasties in for about 12 minutes, until crisp and golden-brown.
Leave to cool on a rack, or serve immediately as a hearty lunch with mashed spuds, greens and gravy.
Keen to cook more pheasant? The Field’s Top Ten pheasant recipes