Polly has posted a great recipe for Steak and Ale pie over at All Tangled Up, which has inspired me to do something I've been thinking about for a while. Namely to post a bit about food from time to time as I cook almost as much as I knit and enjoy it as well.
So, as it's definitely pie weather at the moment I thought I'd share with you the pie we had for dinner this evening.
We had roast pheasant on Sunday night. As we were eating with the children I got two birds, but we ended up eating only one. I often make chicken pie with left over roast chicken so I thought I'd do the same with the pheasant.
Serves 4, maybe a couple more if you're not too hungry
Cooked pheasant - about 500g
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
2 large Portabella mushrooms
1 stick celery
Butter or oil
Approx 600ml pheasant stock
100ml white wine
1 tsp soft brown sugar
500g puff pastry
Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5. Heat up your stock. I used 1 litre stock I’d made from the previous pheasant carcass and reduced it down while I was preparing the other ingredients. You could substitute chicken stock if you wish.
Cut up the streaky bacon into wide strips - you’re going for a rustic feel here. Heat up a little oil in a large frying pan and add the bacon. Slice the mushrooms thickly and add them to the bacon.
While the bacon and mushrooms are cooking, strip the pheasant of its meat. I use my hands and tear it into shreds but you could chop it into chunks if you wish. If you don’t have enough pheasant meat, or wish to lighten the flavour, you could add some cooked chicken flesh to the mix. Set aside.
Remove the bacon and mushrooms from the pan, leaving the oil in the pan.
Slice up the onions and celery and add to the same pan. Return to the heat and add a little more oil and butter if needed.
Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the onions are softened. Add a tablespoon or so of flour and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the brown sugar and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
Pour in a good slug of white wine (about 100ml) and stir while it thickens. You could use Marsala here if you prefer, in which case you won’t need the brown sugar. Once the wine has been absorbed, gradually start adding the hot stock, a little at a time and stir as the sauce thickens. You’re aiming for a thickish gravy, so may not need all the stock.
Once you’ve got to the sort of consistency you like add the pheasant meat and mushroom and bacon mixture to the sauce. By doing this you not only ensure that all the ingredients are at the same temperature when they go in the oven, you can also check that you have enough sauce. If you think you need more liquid, add a bit more stock.
When you are satisfied with the consistency pour your mixture into a ceramic dish. I use a shallow oval dish with a lip all around on which the pastry can rest.
Roll out your pastry. Sometimes I make a short crust pastry for my pies, but more often than not I use bought puff pastry. Wet the lip of your pie dish and place your pastry on top of the filling, making sure it reaches to the edge of the dish all the way around. I never bother with anything to support the pastry - I like the gooey underneath you get when it touches the filling. Crimp the edge of the pastry with a fork (where it rests on the lip of the dish) and cut off any excess. Brush the top of the pastry with milk and cut 2 or 3 slits in the top.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling bubbling.
Eat with mashed potatoes (sorry Polly, it has to be mash with a pie for me!) and green vegetables. We had steamed Savoy cabbage and broccoli and very tasty it was too.