Greatest recipes ever: Fergus Henderson’s pheasant pie

‘A genius way to cook pheasant-and one I never tire of. The game bird is seriously enhanced by the addition of the trotters and the pie’s appearance never fails to draw gasps of admiration.’

Rose Prince

Pheasant and pig’s trotter pie with suet crust

Extract from Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail Eating:

A Kind of British Cooking Published by Bloomsbury in 2004

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A pie for six
3 pig’s trotters
A bundle of fresh herbs
1 whole garlic
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 red onions, cut in half
2 carrots, peeled
1 bottle of red wine
1.5 litres (2 ½pt) chicken stock
A scoop of duck fat or butter
500g (Ilb) green streaky bacon, cut into chunks, skin removed, rolled and tied
2 pheasants, split in half, kept on the bone, and seasoned
3 onions, peeled and sliced
Sea salt and pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten

Suet pastry

200g (7oz) self-raising flour
100g (4oz) suet (grated fresh
if possible-ask your butcher)
A healthy pinch of sea salt


The pie filling is best made the day before, to find itself. Place the trotters in a pan with the herbs, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, celery, red onions, and carrots, cover with red wine and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3 hours until the trotters are cooked and tender. Remove the trotters from the pan, then strain the stock. While the trotters are warm, pick the flesh and skin from the bones.

Get a frying pan hot, add duck fat or butter, fry the bacon chunks and the rolled skin, then remove to a deep roasting tray or oven dish. Brown the pheasant halves, then move them to join the bacon (if the pan looks dry, add a little more fat). Then sweat the onions, add these, the trotter flesh and stock to the roasting tray and cover with tinfoil.

Place in a hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove, check the seasoning and allow to cool in the stock (it can be eaten now if you have not the patience for making a pie).

When cool, remove the pheasant and pull the meat off the bones, keeping the pieces of flesh large as you want them to maintain their integrity in the pie. Return them to the other ingredients and refrigerate overnight.

To make the pastry, mix the ingredients, then add cold water cautiously to achieve a firm dough. Allow this to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours before use.

Place your mixture in a pie dish, cover with pastry, paint this with egg yolk, and bake in a medium to hot oven for 40 minutes. When the pastry is golden, and the stuffing bubbling inside, serve and eat. Very good with Brussels sprouts.

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