Choose the elegance of a Gran Reserva Rioja with its delicate red fruit overlaid by fine oak. This classic pairing brings out the sweetness of the game, and balances the richness. Selected by Sarah Jane Evans MW.
Preparation time: 25 minutes, 2 hours to chill
Cooking time: 90 minutes
Serves: 4-6 as a starter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 duck fillet, skinned and cut into 1 cm strips
300g pigeon breast fillets, cut into 1cm strips
150g pheasant breast fillets, cut into 1cm strips
3 long sprigs of rosemary
300g streaky bacon
100g white bread, crusts cut off
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
6 juniper berries, crushed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
450g sausage meat
250g chicken liver
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp Rioja red wine
Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the duck fillets for 2–3 minutes over a high heat until browned. Set aside and repeat with the pigeon and pheasant, cooking in batches. Season well and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan oven 150°C, gas mark 3.
Grease a 900g loaf tin and lay the two rosemary sprigs along the bottom. Stretch the bacon rashers with the back of a knife. Use the bacon to line the tin slightly overlapping the rashers and leaving the ends overhanging the tin. Reserve 3–4 rashers.
Put the bread, remaining rosemary, parsley, juniper berries and garlic in a food processor and whizz to make breadcrumbs. Add the sausage meat and liver and blend again. Add the egg and wine, season well and pulse briefly. Spread a small amount of this mixture in the tin and press in a few strips of game. Cover with more sausage meat mix and continue to layer, finishing with the sausage meat mix. Fold over the overhanging strips of bacon; patch with pieces of reserved rashers.
Cover with foil. Place in a roasting tin and half fill with boiling water. Cook for 1½ hours till the juices run clear and a skewer inserted into the centre is hot when removed.
Remove from the oven and pile 5 tin cans on top of the foil to act as weights; leave for 2 hours. Put in the fridge, still with the weights on, for 2 hours. Once cool, cut into slices.
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