This is inspired by Prince Charles’ favourite recipe, pheasant crumble, but I fancy this dish is rather princely, too. During your happy perambulations along the river at this time of year, your nasal passages would be hard pressed to ignore the presence of that most headily aromatic of greens – wild garlic. Picked, washed and wilted in a little butter, it is all you would need alongside this dish.
- The meat from two poached pheasants, pulled off the bone and shredded into two-inch chunks.
- 100g diced smoked pancetta
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 fennel bulb, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 1 stick of celery, finely diced
- 80 g butter
- 65 g plain flour
- 50 ml Madeira
- 400 ml pheasant stock
- 150 ml cream
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
For the cobbler topping:
- 350 g self-raising flour
- 200 g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 150–170 ml milk
- 2 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp English mustard
- 1 egg, beaten
1. Gently fry the pancetta for three minutes on a medium heat, then add the butter and the diced vegetables, along with a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat a little and fry gently until the veg has softened, about 8–10 minutes.
2. Add the flour and stir well, turning the heat up to medium and allowing to fry for a further minute.
3. Pour in the Madeira and about a third of the stock, stirring all the while to emulsify.
4. Gradually add the remaining stock, and keep stirring until you have a thick sauce, then add the cream.
Stirring all the time, bring up to the boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the pheasant meat and chopped parsley and adjust the seasoning to taste.
5. Place in a suitably sized casserole dish/pan that will accommodate the scone topping also.
6. To make the ‘cobbles’, place the flour, butter and salt in a food processor, and mix until you have something resembling breadcrumbs.
7. Tip into a bowl, make a well in the middle, and add the mustard, chopped tarragon and 150 ml of milk.
8. Using a knife, bring this together to make a soft dough, adding more milk if necessary.
9. Turn out onto a floured work surface and press down gently to a disc around two inches thick.
10. Using a scone cutter, cut out the cobbles and place on top of the pheasant mixture, pressing down gently.
11. Glaze with the beaten egg and place in a preheated oven at 190°C for 35–40 minutes, until the cobbles are cooked through and the mixture is bubbling around the edges.