My festive pheasant and mushroom pie

With the holiday season knocking on our doors, tons of recipes are shared on chef sites, culinariey blogs and foodie social media. But if there is one thing I have learned over the years to enjoy holiday parties is: keep it simple! Meaning, if you have never deboned a pheasant, ask your butcher to do it for you. If you have never baked bread before, buy the bread. If your family favourite dish is a staple you love to cook but feels old fashioned, than just serve it up with a twist . Bottom line the holidays is about family and friends and spending time together with simple, scrumptious food not feeling rushed, (crushed) nor exhausted from slaving in the kitchen.

PHEASANT SEASON – In Belgium the hunting season for pheasant ranges a bit by region but generally from 15 Oct to 15 January pheasant is shot. I am a huge fan of game ( gibier) : it is ultra seasonal and the meat has a distinct wintery, earthy flavour, not loved by all, but just adore it. I think most people that turn up their nose at pheasant because they may have never tried it or had it cooked too long. It’s delicate red meat that requires careful cooking and perfect flavouring.

PIE – pie season is open and although much more traditional in UK and USA than in Belgium, we see pies become more and more mainstream here too. I am not a big fan of “make your own crust”. I have never made puff pastry in my life, I just buy it! However a short crust is soo easy to make, even me without any fancy kitchen aid tools am able to turn out a lovely flaky pastry. It is all in the rubbing of the cold butter in the flour: take your time, make it crumbly and season the flour with salt and pepper!

TIPS – This pheasant and mushroom pie with a little Marsala, Madeira or Port is such a showstopper yet very simple to make.

You can upgrade it with anything:

  • use wood mushrooms versus button mushrooms
  • add some currants to add sweetness
  • add semolina or chickpea flour to regular flour when making the crust

You can serve it with:

  • sweet potato mash
  • parsnip fries
  • pickled cauliflower

You can make it ahead of time and just bake it in the oven 45 min before you wish to serve it.

Trust me it will not disappoint!

 

My pheasant and mushroom pie

Yield 4 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant deboned, keep 2 drumsticks on the bone to poke through the pie crust
  • 2 table spoons flour
  • 100 gr bacon, finely chopped
  • 150 gr button mushrooms, cut in chunks
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 100 ml Marsala ( Madeira or Port)
  • 250 ml game or chicken stock
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 baie leaves
  • 15 gr butter
  • 1 table spoon flour

for the pastry

  • 225 gr flour
  • 100 gr unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 20 ml cold water

Instructions

  1. Make the pastry: sift the flour and season with salt and pepper. Rub the cold butter with your fingers into the flour ( or pulse in food processor) until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a splash of cold water to combine the dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and reserve in the fridge.
  2. Dust the pheasant chunks with some flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat up a knob of butter and a splash of olive oil in a frying pan and brown the pheasant on all sides. Reserve in the pie dish.
  3. Fry the bacon for a couple of minutes in the same pan, add the mushrooms and fry till they soften a bit. Remove and divide in the pie dish with the pheasant.
  4. Add some more oil and fry the onions till soften. Remove and divide in the pie dish with the rest.
  5. Melt the 15 gr of butter in the pan, stir in a tablespoon of flour, cook out the flour for a minute. Slowly add the Marsala and than the stock stirring continuously until it becomes a smooth homogeneous sauce. Add the thyme and baie leaves , let it simmer for a few minutes. Taste and season if needed. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  6. Dust your counter with some flour and roll out the pastry until it is a little larger than the pie dish and about half cm thick. Brush some water or milk over the rim of the pie dish, then cover the dish with the pastry. Cut a small slit to allow a pie bird, foil funnel or in my case pheasant drumsticks to poke through the pastry to let the steam out of the pie. Crimp the edges between your fingers and trim the excess. Use a baie leave as template to cut out a few pastry leaves to decorate the pie.
  7. Egg wash the pie with the beaten egg, add the cut outs and egg wash them.
  8. Bake the pie for 45 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 C degrees. If you have an oven like mine, I like to cover the pie the lat 15 minutes with foil to prevent burning the crust too much and keep it golden.

Notes

on www.leeksandhighheels.com by Sandra Slawinski

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