Jellied Game

A Cotswold recipe for cooking elderly game birds so that they have all the tenderness and flavour of young birds.


  • 2 old pheasants, or 3 old partridges, legs removed below the thigh and wings at the pinions
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sticks (240 g) butter
  • cups (3 dl) dry red wine, boiled until it is reduced by half
  • 1 quart (9 dl) chicken or beef stock (stock cubes will do)
  • Marjoram, thyme and parsley, tied together in a bunch
  • 20 black olives, stoned
  • ½ lb (240 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Six ¼ oz packets (45 g) gelatine melted in a little warm water


Mix the cayenne, salt and black pepper into the butter. Rub the birds thickly all over, inside and out, with the butter and push any remaining butter inside them. Put the birds, breasts downwards, into a deep pie dish which just holds them side by side.

Mix the reduced wine with the stock and pour over the birds so that they are just covered and put in the bunch of herbs. Cover the pie dish and cook in a 350°F (180°C, Gas Mark 4) oven for 2½ hours.

Remove the dish from the oven. Skim off some of the butter, which will have risen to the top, and drop in the olives and the mushrooms. Put the dish back into the oven for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the pie dish from the oven again and pour off the gravy into a bowl, disturbing the birds, mushrooms and olives as little as possible. Discard the herbs and stir in half the parsley, the lemon juice and then the gelatine into the hot gravy. Pour the gravy back over the birds and allow them to get quite cold. When cold chill for at least 1 hour.

Scrape off all the butter, which will have set over the top, and turn the jellied birds out on to a flat serving dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parsley.