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Pheasant and Mushroom Casserole

ingredients

serves: 4
a brace of oven-ready pheasants
450 ml port, Madeira or medium-dry sherry
250 g pig's liver, finely chopped
250 g chicken, game or turkey livers, thawed if frozen and finely chopped
30 g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes, or 250 g fresh field or chestnut mushrooms, chopped
1 stick (8 Tbsp)4 oz (100 g) butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

method

1. Place the pheasants in a bowl and pour over the port, Madeira and sherry.

2. Cover and leave to marinate overnight.

3. Remove the pheasants from the marinade and reserve it. Mix together the livers.

4. If using dried porcini mushrooms, drain, squeeze dry and chop them.

5. Add two-thirds of the porcini or half the fresh mushrooms to the liver mixture.

6. Melt half the butter in a saucepan and fry the liver and mushroom mixture for a few minutes or until the liver is just browned.

7. Leave to cool slightly, then use to stuff both the pheasants and sew them closed.

8. Melt the remaining butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and brown the pheasants all over.

9. Pour over about a quarter of the reserved marinade and boil off the alcohol, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more alcohol and cook for a further 10 minutes.

10. Repeat until all the alcohol has been used, then scatter the remaining mushrooms around the birds and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes or until the thigh is tender when pierced with a skewer. (It needs about 1 1/2 hours altogether)

11. To serve, reduce the cooking liquid slightly.

12. Meanwhile, season the pheasants, cut each in half and place on plates; spoon out the stuffing and pour the reduced sauce over.

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