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What's Cookin'?

A recipe for JulyPheasant pie with chestnuts and orange 

Serves 6
Prep - 30 mins
Cook - 1 ˝  hours

  • 2 pheasants
  • stock vegetables (a carrot, onion, celery stick, leek all cut into chunks)
  • bayleaf, 6 peppercorns, sprig or two of fresh thyme
  • 50g butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 25g plain flour
  • 200ml red wine
  • grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • 200g peeled whole chestnuts
  • 3 tbsp cranberry sauce with port
  • 375g pack all butter puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
  • beaten egg to glaze
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
      1. Place the pheasants in a large pan that fits them neatly with the stock vegetables. Pour over enough cold water to almost cover and a large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer very gently for 30 – 35 minutes until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the leg is pierced with a skewer. Cool the birds in the stock for a really good moist finish. Strain the stock and measure out 600ml. Keep the remaining stock for soups or risottos.

      2. Preheat the oven to 200C gas mark 6. Remove the pheasant meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Tear into pieces and place in a 2 litre pie dish or roasting tin with a wide lip to hold the pastry. Melt half the butter in a large non-stick pan and add the onion and chestnuts. Fry for 3-4 minutes until soft and pale then add to the pheasant in the dish.

      3. Melt the remaining butter in the pan and add the flour. Stir for a minute to cook out the flour. Off the heat gradually whisk in the reserved stock and wine then return to the heat and simmer, stirring until thickened and smooth. Stir in the orange rind and juice, cranberry sauce and season to taste. Pour the sauce over the meat in the pie dish to cover and leave to cool. Place an eggcup or funnel in the centre to support the pastry. You can make the pie up to this stage then cover and chill overnight.

      4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a rectangle 5cm larger than the dish. Cut a strip of pastry about 1.5cm wide and place along the edge of the pie dish. Brush the pastry edge on the dish with cold water then lift the pastry over and settle it gently over the filling. Pinch around the edges to seal and make a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Chill for 15 minutes to allow the pastry to rest.

      5. Brush the pastry top with beaten egg to glaze and bake in the preheated oven for 45 -50 minutes until the pie crust is crisp and golden. Serve with mashed root vegetables and steamed shredded cabbage.

      This recipe was provided by Mary Gwynn, a local author and food writer. She writes regularly for Waitrose Weekend newspaper and has published several cookery books, including The WI Cookbook: The First 100 Years and The Busy Mum’s Cookbook. She is on the committee of Penshurst Farmers Market.