2012 pie

4 Jan

During Chrimbo limbo last week, Mr Cakes and I visited Ma and Pa in the wilds wolds of Lincolnshire. After a couple of days and several cooked breakfasts later we were packed off to Shoreditch with 4 pheasant breasts, among other things. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall must have heard the news, as the very same day he included a recipe for Pheasant with prunes and bacon in a collection of Brandy Recipes published in the Guardian. Thanks Hugh!

Now, I didn’t have any prunes…and I did fancy a pie, and I did have apricots and chestnuts leftover from the Christmas stuffing. So, with a touch of inspiration from HFW and a bit of imagination, this is what I came up with.

2012 (aka pheasant, apricot & chestnut) Pie

4 pheasant breasts, cut into large chunks (about 3 chunks per breast)
20g butter
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 rashers unsmoked bacon (I used back bacon, streaky would probably be good too)
60ml brandy
250ml white wine
350ml chicken stock
80g dried apricots, halved
60g cooked, peeled & halved chestnuts (peeled weight)
10g plain flour
250g puff pastry (I cheated, and bought ready-made…)
1 egg, beaten

Serves 4

Place a large frying pan (I use this 30cm Le Creuset one, nearly every day. It’s fantastic) over a medium-low heat and melt half the butter with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon, onions, thyme, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently to soften the onions and they just turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a minute.

Turn up the heat to your frying pan slightly, add the pheasant chunks to the pan and brown all over. Warm the brandy in a small pan, light carefully and pour over the pheasants. Try not to freak out at this point, you will have massive flames spewing out of your pan. Best to move your pan away from the hob if you have a cooker hood like we do, ours got a little flame grilled.

Once the alcohol has burnt off you can relax and deglaze the frying pan with a splash of the white wine, scraping up any tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the wine, the stock, apricots and chestnuts, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Transfer the meat, apricots, chestnuts and any other chunky bits to a large pie dish and pour the liquid into something else while you melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Then gradually add the liquid back to the pan to make a gravy, nice and slowly or you’ll get lumps. Pour the gravy into the pie dish to cover the pie contents.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface, place over the dish and trim round the edges. Brush the pastry with egg, and use and pastry trimmings to make your pie look pretty. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Nom nom nom!

You can find the original Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe on the Guardian website here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/30/brandy-recipes-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall

And just because, here’s a picture of Ma and Pa on their wedding day. Aw!

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One Response to “2012 pie”

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  1. Happy New Pheasant « Shoreditch Bakes - January 8, 2013

    […] year began in a very similar manner, travelling home to Shoreditch from Lincolnshire with a pheasant to cook. This year rings the changes; home grown apples from Grandma Cakes and the pheasant is […]

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