Recipe: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Brydie Thompson
Pheasant can have a tendency to dry out which is why, in this recipe, I have opted to poach the meat first. Another advantage of this is you will be left with a gorgeous homemade stock, some of which you use in the pie, the rest can be frozen or made into a soup.
6 shallots or pickling onions, peeled and cut in half
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
a generous bunch of thyme
12 juniper berries, crushed (available at great food stores like Dante’s in Cambridge and Red Kitchen in Te Awamutu)
4 rashers of streaky bacon (I used Vandy’s from Magills in Te Awamutu, which is also available in many supermarkets)
250g button mushrooms
¼ cup flour
¾ cup stock
½ cup mascarpone
Sour Cream Pastry
2 cups flour
200g cold butter, chopped
½–1 cup sour cream
To make the pastry, put the flour and chopped butter in a food processor and process till it resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add half a cup of sour cream slowly, more if it is not coming together. You want it to form a ball. Divide the pastry in half, cover and rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Place the pheasant in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add shallots or pickled onions, juniper berries, garlic and thyme. Bring to a boil and then simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
Remove the pheasant and shallots. When the pheasant is cool enough, remove the meat from the bones. Return the bones to the stock and continue to simmer until it has reduced by at least half. (You may want to add other veg like celery, onion and carrot to add more flavour to your stock.)
In a pan fry the chopped bacon and mushrooms for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and melt. Stir in the flour, stirring and cooking for 2–3 minutes. Continuing to stir slowly add in the stock. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken then add in the cooked pheasant, mushrooms and bacon followed by the mascarpone. Check and adjust the seasoning then allow to cool completely in the fridge.
Roll just over half the pastry and line a deep 24cm pie dish. Fill with the cooled pheasant filling then top with the other portion of rolled pastry on top. Crimp the edges and brush with beaten egg.
Chill the pie for another 30 minutes before placing in a 200°C oven and baking for 20–30 minutes.
Tip – avoid a soggy bottom by placing your oven tray lower in your oven and placing a pizza stone in the oven as it heats. Put the pie on the hot pizza stone to bake. Also metal tins conduct the heat better than glass or ceramic.