Traditional country pursuits reimagined for a modern world
An unbeatable woodpigeon wellington recipe from the head chefs of the Woodsman Restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon.
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Photographer / CHARLES SAINSBURY-PLAICE
500g puff pastry roll
400g chestnut mushrooms, washed and dried
1 clove of garlic
5g picked thyme leaves
1 shallot, finely diced
100ml double cream
8 woodpigeon breast fillets
250g large leaf spinach
10g chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1. Season the pigeon breasts with salt and pepper then gently sear for 30 seconds on either side in a hot pan with a little rapeseed oil and butter. Remove from the pan and chill.
2. Bring a pan of hot water to the boil and blanch the spinach for 10 seconds then refresh in ice-cold water. Once cold, squeeze the water from the spinach and lay out onto a cloth. Brush the breasts with English mustard and then carefully wrap them in the spinach. Stack two breasts together (you will have four stacks) and set to one side.
3. To make the mushroom duxelles, take the mushrooms and chop finely with a knife or pulse briefly in a food processer. If pulsed, squeeze the mushrooms in a cloth to remove as much water as possible. Heat a heavy based pan until hot and add 50ml of rapeseed oil, then the mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook until the mixture has a beautiful golden colour and is dry.
4. Deglaze with the Madeira and cook until dry. Finally, add the cream and cook down until the mixture is a thick mushroom paste. Season and leave to cool.
5. For the pancakes, beat the egg and milk together, then add the sieved flour. Season with salt, add the chives and gently cook four 8" pancakes as thin as possible. Leave to cool.
6. To assemble a wellington, first place some cling film onto your worktop. Lay a pancake onto the cling film and smother it with a quarter of the mushroom duxelles.
7. Place a stack of two pigeon breasts into the centre of a pancake. Using the cling film, roll the pancake over the top of the breasts and into a cylinder shape. Roll tight with cling film and set in the freezer whilst you roll the pastry. Repeat for the three other stacks.
8. Roll the puff pastry out on a well-floured surface until it is around 4mm thick and 10" squared.
9. Take the pigeon rolls from the freezer, remove the cling film, place a roll in the centre of the pastry and brush with egg yolk. Roll the pastry over the top of the pigeon stack until the puff pastry meets on either side. Overlap by 1cm and cut with a sharp knife. Press the join firmly together.
10. Keeping the join side down on the work surface, press the pastry together on either end to form a tight fit around the pigeon, trying not to leave any air pockets. Cut the loose pastry away, leaving an inch. Pinch the edges together and wrap the spare pastry underneath the wellington.
11. Glaze with egg yolk and place in the fridge. Chill for at least 30 minutes before cooking at 200ºC for 20 minutes until crisp and golden.
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