Game parfait

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Serves 6-8

When I worked at the Grosvenor House we had Parfait de Bécasse Lorraine on the menu. It was a rich, silky smooth woodcock pâté - well, more of a mousse really. It was a bit of a bugger to make, but it was well worth all the effort, which included forcing it through a sieve to ensure that the meat was as fine a texture as possible, as well as making lots of reductions of meat liquid.

I have shortened the laborious process a touch here, though, and instead of the rare woodcock, I have suggested using partridge or pheasant (pheasant comes into season next month). But a mixture of game birds will do; and some good game dealers sometimes have birds that are not in perfect condition that would be ideal.

2 partridges, or 2-4 snipe or 2-4 woodcock, or 1 pheasant (which comes into season in October)
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A few sprigs of thyme
1/2 glass of white wine
1/2 glass of red wine
50ml Madeira
2tbsp brandy
3 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 litre chicken stock, or one good quality stock cube dissolved in that amount of boiling water
4 juniper berries
100g duck or chicken livers
100ml double cream

Remove the legs from the partridge or other game birds, and then cut through the leg joint to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Put the drumstick to one side, and remove the skin from the thighs and cut out the bone with the point of a sharp knife. Cut the breasts away from the carcass and remove the skin.

Cut the thigh and breast meat into rough 2cm chunks and place in a non-reactive bowl with the wine, Madeira and brandy. Marinade in the fridge for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, chop the drumsticks and carcass up into small pieces with a heavy chopping knife or cleaver. Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and fry the bones and shallots, stirring well, until they are nicely coloured. Add the chicken stock, thyme, garlic and juniper, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Strain the stock through a fine meshed sieve into a clean saucepan, add the marinading liquor from the pheasant, and boil until you have about two or three spoonfuls of syrupy liquid left.

Dry the pieces of game meat on some kitchen paper and season. Heat half of the butter in a frying pan and cook it on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often and keeping the meat pink. Put to one side. Add the rest of the butter to the pan, season the livers and sauté them for 2-3 minutes, stirring and keeping them pink. Mix the pheasant, liver and reduced stock together, and then blend in a liquidiser or food processor in two or three batches to keep it as smooth as possible. You will need to stop every so often during blending so that you can scrape the sides with a spatula.

Whip the cream to a fairly stiff consistency and carefully fold into the mixture with a spoon. Transfer to a serving dish or container, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

Serve simply on toast or with a salad of small salad leaves and peeled seedless grapes.

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