First get friendly with one of our locals with a shotgun licence and ask nicely, you never know what they might have in their freezer. Patrick was very obliging and a brace of partridge and pheasant later you’re on your way. A rabbit is always nice, but to be honest you can make this with all sorts of game and most butchers will do a pack of mixed game.
This is my recipe and as with all recipes its only a guide, please feel free to adjust.
1.5Kg of Game (I used Pheasant, Partridge, pigeon, Rabbit and Mallard)
4 large rashers of smoked bacon – streaky ideally
8 shallots – quartered
3-4 Bay Leaves
Half a bottle of red wine
A good slosh of brandy
A good pinch of mixed herbs
Red current jelly
2 500g Packs of Just Roll Shortcrust Pastry (I cheated, but you can always make your own)
First remove all the meat from the birds (assuming you’ve bought the rabbit and mallard diced); you’ll be able to use the breast and leg meat on the Pheasants, but really only the breast from the partridges. Put all of the meat in a bowl, pour in the wine, brandy and salt and pepper and herbs and then leave for a few hours to marinade.
Pop the carcases from the pheasant and partridges in a stock pot (big sauce pan) cover with water, add a carrot, bay leaf, celery and a few pepper corns and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about an hour or so and then sieve into a fresh pan. I then simmered it for another 30 minutes to reduce the liquid and intensify the flavour. You want to aim for about a pint of stock and if you don’t want to make the stock use chicken stock instead.
Get a large casserole dish, that can be used on the hob. I used a Le Creuset type of pot with a lid. Fry the shallots in olive oil until they have a little colour and then start adding the meat to seal. Once the meat is browned, sprinkle a good tablespoon of flour over the meat and give it a good stir. Then pour in the stock, add a few sprigs of thymes, rosemary and 3-4 bay leaves.
Bring to the boil and then turn down low to simmer for a couple of hours (you can do this in an oven at about 160 degrees centigrade). Check the seasoning occasionally and adjust as required. I also added a good tablespoon of red current jelly at this point.
About an hour and a half before you intend to serve prepare the pie. I used a 26 cm pie dish, oiled and then sprinkled with flour. Roll out the pastry and cover the base of your pie dish. Fill the pie with your meat and pile it up. Then put the second disk of pastry on top and seal the edge with egg. You’re aiming for a pie that looks like “4 and 20 blackbirds” will fly out.
Finally brush with beaten egg. If you do this twice with about 10 minutes between, to let the first coat dry, you get a fantastically glossy finish. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt (this gives the pastry a wonderful flavour) and bake in the oven for about an hour at 150-160 degrees Centigrade (depending on whether you have a fan oven).
Once the pie is golden brown, serve at the table with a mountain of mashed potato, cabbage, carrots (or whatever you fancy) and enjoy with a robust red wine with lots of body. A good Shiraz or Bordeaux will go beautifully.
I hope you enjoy