This dish was referred to in a sixteenth-century description of a London feast and there is also a seventeenth-century recipe from the Cotswolds. The birds used were plovers, wheatears, young pigeons or young partridges. Today, young pigeons or quails are usually obtainable.
Serve with whole french beans or young peas, and with half a blanched tomato, topped with a black olive, between each pastry-encased bird.
Roll out the pastry to about
Fry the pigeons or the quails in the butter on all sides. Allow the birds to cool
Roll the pastry out again to
Place a bird in the centre of each piece of pastry.
Put 2 grapes with each quail, sprinkle with
Pull up the pastry and pinch well together at the top. Brush over with the beaten egg.
Bake the pigeons at
Bake the quails in the same way, but give them only a further 10 minutes at the lower temperature.
Lift the encased birds very carefully on to a flat serving dish and serve immediately.
©1980 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton