St. John’s Pheasant Pie

This recipe can be made with any game bird (wild or farm raised). The idea is to always cook the bird on the bone for maximum flavor. However, if you have leftover poultry of any kind especially turkey, you can make the ham stock as directed and submerge the the leftover pieces in this stock overnight before proceeding with the recipe.


  • 2 smoked ham hocks (or 1 smoked ham shank) about 2 lbs.
  • 2 bundles of fresh herbs (parsley and thyme)
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and skin on
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 3/4 qts. chicken stock
  • a scoop of duck fat (or unsalted butter)
  • 2 pheasants (or chickens), about 3 1/5 lbs. each, kept on the bone, and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 lb. or unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, for glaze


This pie filling is best made the day before. Place the ham hocks in a pot with the herbs, garlic, bayleaves, peppercorns, celery, red onions, and carrots, cover with red wine and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the ham is soft. Remove the ham hocks from the pot, and strain the stock. While the ham hocks are still warm, pick the flesh and skin from the bones.

Get a frying pan hot, add the duck fat or butter, fry the pheasants on all sides and them move them to a deep roasting pan or ovenproof dish. (If the pan looks dry, add a little more fat). Then, sweat the onions, and add these to the roasting pan; add the ham and stock and cover with a top (or foil). Place in a hot 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 30 minutes. Turn the birds over from time to time for even cooking. Remove, check the seasoning, and allow to cool in the stock.

When cooked, remove the pheasant from the stock and pull the meat off the bones, keeping the pieces of flesh large, as you want them to maintain their integrity in the pie. Return them to the other ingredients and refrigerate overnight.

To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in the container of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the machine running, pour in a mixture of the milk with the vinegar, and run it until the dough comes into a ball. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill for 20 minutes.

Place the meat mixture in a deep pie dish, and cover with the sauce, (saving any extra sauce for another purpose). Roll out the pastry until it is about 3/8 inch thick. Paint the edges of the dish with the beaten egg; and cover the dish with the pastry; paint top of the pie with egg glaze; and bake it in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Serves 6.