Wild duck and beetroot broth 'en croûte'

Serves 4

Game bird carcasses make a fantastic flavoured broth and I always keep some in the freezer from when I have a game bird feast. Beetroot and duck or wild duck are brilliant partners. You don't have to serve this soup with a pastry lid, but occasionally it's nice to go back in time and revive some old classics.

1 mallard or the legs from a couple of birds
2ltrs game or chicken stock
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
3 juniper berries
A couple of sprigs of thyme
1 medium-sized raw beetroot, boiled in its skin for about an hour until tender
150-200g puff pastry, rolled to about one-third of a cm thick
1 small egg, beaten

Put the wild duck in a saucepan with the onion, celery, juniper and thyme, bring to the boil and simmer very gently in the stock for 1 hour. Remove the mallard and strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve. Check the strength; if it's not strong enough then simmer until you are happy with the flavour. Leave to cool.

Peel the beetroot and cut it into matchstick-like shreds. Remove all of the meat from the mallard and shred it. You may have too much meat for the soup so reserve it for another batch or a salad.

Put the mallard meat and beetroot into 4 cold, deep-ish soup bowls and pour in the cold broth to about two-thirds of the way up the bowl.

Cut the pastry into circles about 2cm larger than the bowl. Brush the edges with some beaten egg and lay them over the bowls, pressing the egg side of the pastry against the bowl to stick it. Brush the tops with more egg and leave in the fridge until required.

You can decorate with some of the pastry trimmings if you wish. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden, and serve immediately.

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