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Pheasant & leek pasties

21 December 2005

No great surprise, but I haven't really done a lot today either. Didn't even make the cake (again!). But I did cook the ham and glaze it (Chaz'z Patent Glaze: molasses sugar, redcurrant jelly and strong English mustard, mixed to a thick paste and slathered over the fat and any exposed faces of the meat, then roasted in the oven till it caramelises on the ham, which means burns on the bottom of the tin; you've got to be brave), and I did first invent and then create pheasant-and-leek pasties for lunch.

First shoot your pheasants; or better yet, first befriend a GP who has a patient who goes shooting. You may not know this, but GPs get Xmas presents from patients grateful to have survived another year; hence Monday night, when Iím pinging about the Lit & Phil being overstressed and hypertense and Simon sidles up to me with a bloody package, four pheasant breasts. I believe, should you lack these advantages, they can be bought from butchers.

So: make a shortcrust pastry with 12oz of flour and six of fat (all butter, or half-and-half butter and lard, or butter and vegetable fat - whatever), and while that's chilling in the fridge, chop and fry your pheasant breasts in lots of butter and a little oil. Take them out, slice four young leeks and soften those in the same buttery juicy liquid. Add them to the pheasant, and mix in four small cooked diced potatoes, a couple of tablespoons of Cumberland sauce, a couple of handfuls of chopped parsley and salt & pepper. Stir it all up with your hands, then roll the pastry into half a dozen rounds (or rectangles, or triangles, or whatever cockamamie shape it may happen to come out; either this is not an exact science or else I am not an exact man) and divide the mixture between them. Fold the pastry over to cover, pinch all the edges together to seal, brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake in a medium-hot oven for half an hour or so. Mine had about thirty minutes at gas 4, and then another ten at 6 just to put some colour on 'em.

And now itís rising four o'clock, and I've almost run out of things to do about the house, and tonight's gig is starting to loom large in my imagination. It's ridiculous, but I'm almost more nervous tonight than I was on Monday - I suppose because there's very little I can do to contribute to the evening's success, as I'm not actually reading tonight. Damn, but I hate being in other people's hands... (There are those among you, of course, who are right now thinking "actually, Chaz, maybe this evening isn't all about you," and of course you're right; but these are still my gigs, my baby. As the book is, and we do need to sell that well again tonight. O my ducats, O my daughter...)

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© Chaz Brenchley 2005
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.