Pheasant with Chestnuts in Pastry

When I worked on the pheasant farm in Sussex I learnt to sympathise with those who have endless pheasants to cook and spent a lot of time thinking up recipes. I particularly like this one because it is so good for a dinner party. You can get to the stage where you wrap the pheasant earlier in the day and just bung it in the oven at the relevant time, and the pastry stops it drying out. It’s also a good recipe for guinea fowl and chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant
  • 450g/1 lb chestnuts
  • 85g/3oz butter
  • 225g/8oz pheasant or chicken livers, chopped
  • 225g/8oz bacon, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 300ml/½ pint game or chicken stock
  • 350g/12oz puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

For The Sherry Sauce

  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 55g/2oz flour
  • 750ml/ pints chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 50ml/3tbsp double cream
  • 30g/1oz butter
  • 50ml/3tbsp dry sherry

Method

Peel the chestnuts and simmer in salted water until tender but still whole. Mix together the bacon, livers, chestnuts, onion and 25g/1oz of the butter, and seasoning. Stuff the pheasant with the mixture. Brown the pheasant in the rest of the butter add the stock and roast in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for 20 minutes, turning onto the other side half way through. Baste frequently. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Roll the pastry out and wrap the bird in it. Cut a slit for steam and brush with the egg yolk. Bake at 180°C/375°F/Gas 5 for 40 minutes.

For the sauce, heat the butter in a heavy pan. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes stirring continuously. Add the stock to the roux a bit at a time. Whisking continuously reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes stirring and skimming every 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes. Season and pass through a conical sieve into a clean saucepan. Over a low heat, whisk in the butter a little at a time. Remove from the heat, add the sherry and serve with the pheasant.

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