Recipe

Three-bird pie

by Lesley Holdship

A gamey trio of chicken, quail and pigeon from pie-baker extraordinnaire Lesley Holdship

Ingredients

220g lard
400g sausage meat
2 tbsp fresh curly parsley, chopped
300g pigeon breast
300g quail meat
300g chicken fillet
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground mace
Sea salt and black pepper
550g plain flour
1 egg
300ml good chicken stock
3 gelatine leaves, soaked in water

Method

Turn the oven on to 140C.

Lightly grease your mould with a little of the lard—I used a Silverwood country pie mould. If you don’t have one, either use a 20cm springform cake tin or even 2lb loaf tin.

Prepare your meats first so they are ready to go once you have made the hot water crust.

Mix the sausage meat with the parsley, then thinly slice the breast meats. Keep them separate, but season each type with the spice and seasoning.

Next, melt the lard with 200ml water and a good pinch of salt until boiling. Remove from the heat and pour in the flour, mixing quickly using a round-bladed knife until it all comes together into a ball. Leave until it is just cool enough to handle.

Cut the pastry in half, then cut one of the halves into 2 quarters. Take the larger half, lightly flour the work surface, and roll the pastry out a little just to get it started. Lay it in the mould and then use your fingertips to press the pastry up the sides, right to the top and over a little. The pastry needs to be around 1½cm thick.

Divide the sausage meat, putting a quarter aside, and press the larger part over the pastry base, easing it up around the sides until it reaches the top too. This will take a little while. Enjoy it for what it is, don’t rush!

Next, layer in the breast meats, however you like—you can do stripes or blocks of colour, whatever you fancy! Really get the meat to the edges, pressing it all down with your hand. Get enough meat in the mould to dome above the top of the tin. Press the remaining sausage meat over the top.

Roll out 1 of the remaining pieces of pastry so it is just larger than the pie top, then gently transfer it to cover the meat. You can do this by rolling it on to a rolling pin and then unrolling it over the pie.

Press the top and sides of the pastry together, then trim to leave a neat edge. Crimp if you fancy! Make a hole in the top.

Roll out the remaining piece of pastry quite thinly, around half a cm, then cut it into leaves. Brush the back of each leaf with a little water and layer them over the top of the pie, covering it completely if you like and cover the hole, too.

Bake the pie for 2½ hours. Whisk the egg and brush the pie all over, making sure not to miss anywhere, then bake for another 20-30 mins.

Warm the stock with the herbs and then add the drained gelatine, swirling the pan to dissolve. Leave it to go completely cold.

Once the pie has had a while to rest, remove a couple of the leaves carefully from the centre of the lid and reassert the hole. Very carefully pour in some of the stock—it will depend on how compacted the meats are as to how much stock you will get in, you may not fit in much. 

Chill the pie for a good 4 hours, or overnight would be good, in the tin. Don’t try to unhinge it too quickly, as the pastry may crack or break.

Serve with big spoonfuls of chutney.

Recipe: Lesley Holdship
Images: John Holdship