Game Pie | Shortcrust Pastry Pheasant Pie Recipe

This game pie recipe will teach you how to make a beautiful pheasant (or any kind of game) pie and will show you a perfect shortcrust pastry recipe as well!

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Introduction

I’m not sure why, but I seem to have gone a little pie mad recently. I think it’s because pies are such a fantastic way to use up… well, pretty much anything.

Pies are a great way to use up leftovers and an even better way to make use of those cuts of meat that benefit from a long, slow cook.

After all, when you’ve made a few too many curries and you’re all out of casserole ideas, how else are you going to use those rather-less-versatile cuts of meat?

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More to the point, it’s game season. And game season means all kinds of opportunities to experiment with ingredients that are often overlooked.

I’ve mentioned before a very kind friend who frequently shares with me some of the spoils of his shooting successes. For various reasons, more often than not, this tends to mean pheasant.

Pheasant is an interesting meat, well suited the kind of slow cooking one might use in a pie. Put a pheasant in front of someone who’s never cooked with it before and they’ll panic, yet it’s really not that drastically different to, say, chicken.

A little leaner, a little gamier, all the component pieces are the same and so are many of the flavour pairings. It’s a little less forgiving to cook than either, but in terms of flavour, it’s effectively a little way between chicken and duck.

About the dish

I’m going to start by assuming that you’ve already prepared the meat you’ll be using. I do prepare the birds myself, but I’m not quite neat and tidy enough yet to teach it.

I’ve used pheasant, because it’s what tends to come my way. But if you have any other game bird or in fact any other meat at all, it should all work fairly similarly because we’re cooking it all long and slow.

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We’ll be making our own shortcrust pastry from scratch in this recipe. If you’d rather make puff pastry, that’ll work just fine instead. You could even use a store bought pastry if you’d prefer. They tend to lack the shortness you can achieve when you make your own pastry, but they work and they save a lot of time.

On another pastry related note, I’ve used a ring mould to shape the pies. If you don’t have one, any ovenproof bowl of suitable size will do the trick.

My example may refer to a brace of pheasants. A brace simply means a pair, and while I usually find that means one of each gender, I’m not sure if that’s actually a rule.

A lot of people will use only the breast meat when cooking, because the legs can be harder to use. If you are preparing your own bird, pay those legs extra attention. They’re filled with lots and lots of very sharp and very inedible tendons, and because these birds see a lot more action than the average chicken, they won’t cook down into nothing like you might expect.

Once the legs are plucked and skinned and the feet removed, a pair of pliers can be used to remove the tendons. Be careful, be forceful and be thorough. There are more than you think and they’re very resilient. But you really don’t want to catch one unprepared when you bite into your pheasant pie!

If it proves too difficult, you can braise the legs whole and then use the pliers to slide them right out. But that adds an extra layer of complication that can be avoided with a simple bit of tenacity.

It can also be worth thoroughly inspecting the meat for shot, as well as for anything else that might have worked its way into the wounds. In pheasant or indeed any game pie, a little shot might be an anticipated part of the experience, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to deal with it.

As you can see in the picture above, the bird can often be fairly severely damaged and a great deal can find its way into those deep crevices. You’ll often find anything from bits of shot to lost feathers to all manner of bits and pieces of the countryside.

Where the shot has travelled right through the leg or breast, I find it can help to run a skewer through the wound to push out any unexpected detritus.

Can you see the awful piece of rice that completely ruins my day every single time I look at this?

Finally, alongside the pheasant, we’ll be making a base of carrot, onion and celery, and a sauce from a little mustard, some fig chutney and a splash of cream. If you don’t have any fig chutney, any other sweet chutney should do, or a little extra cream and some sugar.

A few final things to remember

  • Always rest your pastry. The thing with using homemade puff pastry rather than something store bought is that when you first make and knead it, you get the gluten all excited and active, which means that when you try to roll it out, it will resist, springing back into a tighter, thicker form. Resting it stops that. You’ll feel the difference if and when you try to roll it out and in both instances.
  • On the note of store bought pastries. Use them. Homemade puff pastry does come with a certain deliciousness that store bought does not. Especially the way it’s utilised in this instance. But there’s no harm in using the shop bought stuff in a pinch. It may not have the same buttery-ness and crunch, but it tastes just fine and still wraps everything together.
  • You could use shortcrust instead, whether store bought or homemade. All that really matters is picking the one you fancy. Both can be absolutely delicious and neither are in any way superior. If you’d like to use shortcrust instead, check out my shortcrust pastry recipe right here!

Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

Easy Shortcrust Pastry Recipe – Just another link to the above noted shortcrust pastry recipe. I do have a slight preference for puff, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love pastry, regardless of which type?

Homemade Puff Pastry Sausage Roll Recipe – By my count, there are three real snack-time pastry classics. We’ve done pies, we’ll do pasties soon and then there’s the ever-humble sausage roll, beloved by all but the unpleasable.

Homemade Cottage Pie Recipe – For a totally different kind of pie, check out this tasty cottage pie recipe, with minced lamb, creamy mash and all sorts of flavour.

Croque Monsieur – I’m all out of pie recipes, but for more bacon-y, carbohydrate-y goodness, this croque monsieur recipe is here to fill your stomach and clog your arteries. It’s too good.


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Subscribe to my newsletter now for a free guide to cooking curries! AND I’ll send you weekly tricks, tips and updates that will help you elevate your cooking to the next level!


Game Pie | Shortcrust Pastry Pheasant Pie Recipe

Game Pie | Shortcrust Pastry Pheasant Pie Recipe

This game pie recipe will teach you how to make a beautiful pheasant (or any kind of game) pie and will show you a perfect shortcrust pastry recipe as well!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine English
Servings 2 Pies

Equipment

  • Circle Mould (optional)

Ingredients
  

Pastry

  • 300 g Plain Flour
  • 150 g Unsalted Butter
  • 0.5 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Water

Pie Mix

  • 2 Pheasant Breast
  • 2 Pheasant Leg
  • 1 sml Onion
  • 1 sml Stick Celery
  • 1 sml Carrot
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Bay Leaf
  • 2 tbsp Fig Chutney or 1 tbsp sugar
  • Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Mustard
  • 1/2 cup Cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Egg

Instructions
 

Pastry

  • Bring the butter to room temperature and cut into small cubes.
  • Sift the flour through a sieve into a large mixing bowl
  • Add the butter and salt to the flour and combine until the pieces look like small, moist crumbs and are a fairly even size.
  • Add a tablespoon of water and combine. You want a smooth, but fairly solid dough. If you need more water, add a teaspoon at a time.
  • Wrap in clingfilm and rest for at least 30 minutes or until you’re ready to use it, up to 3 days.

Pie Mix

  • Start by using pliers to remove all of the tendons in the lower leg of the pheasant. Be thorough. They're really not very palatable.
  • Once they're removed, strip the meat from the bones and dice it up, then dice the breast meat as well. It doesn't matter if it's all a little rough around the edges, but you do want the pieces to be quite small – it makes it easier to fill the pie and to fit the lid.
  • Peel and finely dice the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. You want really nice, small pieces here, because they're going to go
  • Pat the meat dry, then sear it all over in a super hot pan with some oil and salt.
  • Set the meat aside and reduce the temperature to medium, then add the diced vegetables and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir frequently as they gently cook for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Add the pheasant back in and stir everything together, then add the bay leaf and enough water to submerge. Bring everything to a simmer and cook for about 1.5 hours, topping up the water if required. Toward the end, stop topping up the water and let it mostly evapourate, then stir in the mustard, the chutney or sugar, a splash of cider vinegar and enough cream to create a sauce. Move to the fridge to cool.

Build the pie and cook

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
  • Take your pastry from the fridge and if necessary let it warm a little, then roll it out to about 3mm thick. Take into consideration the fact that you'll need two long strips, enough to line the sides of your pie mould, as well as a top and a bottom for each pie.
  • Cut four circles out, using your mould, and cut two long strips as wide as your mould is tall. Cover two with a slightly damp cloth.
  • Butter the mould and use it to build the pie, effectively placing it around the bottom piece of the pie and lining the edge with the side. Don't forget to brush the area where the pastry will connect with water.
  • Use anything from baking beads to dried rice to pearl barley to fill the pie temporarily, then put it in the oven for roughly 15 minutes, until it's cooked enough to hold its form.
  • Let it cool a little, then pour out the dried contents, scraping out any leftovers with a knife. Have fun here. This can be really, really tedious.
  • Wet the rim of the cooked pies. Fill the pies with filling and drape the top piece of pastry over the top, poking a hole in the centre.
  • Crack and fork-whisk an egg and brush it all over the pie. Increase the oven temperature to 200 and cook the pie until coloured all over.
Keyword game, game pie, gamekeeper’s pie, Herb Crusted Pheasant Heart, pheasant pie, pie

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