Woodcock Casserole

This is a rich and extravagant casserole, ideal to serve at a dinner party. If woodcock is not available, partridge or young pheasant may be used instead

A luxurious dish for dinner, Woodcock Casserole contains woodcock cooked in white wine with vegetables.

4 small woodcock

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 oz. flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 lean bacon slices, rinds removed and chopped

4 small onions, quartered

3 carrots, scraped and sliced

8 fl. oz. dry white wine

12 fl. oz. m cups home-made chicken stock 4 garlic cloves bouquet garni, consisting of parsley sprigs, 1 thyme spray and 1 bay leaf tied together 2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 2 oz. fresh peas, weighed after shelling

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Simple but sophisticated, Woodcock in Claret is ideal for a special occasion. Serve with new potatoes and, to drink, of course, claret.

Place the woodcock on a board and rub them all over with the salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish, and dip the woodcock in the flour, coating them thoroughly and shaking off any excess. Set aside.

In a medium-sized flameproof cass-erole, heat the oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon, onions and carrots and fry, stirring occa-sionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and vegetables from the casserole and drain them on kitchen paper towels. Set aside on a plate.

Place the woodcock in the casserole, two at a time, and fry for 6 to 8 minutes, turning them frequently, or until they are brown all over. Remove the casserole from the heat, place the woodcock on the plate with the vegetables and set aside.

Pour off the fat remaining in the cass-erole. Pour the wine and stock into the casserole and place it over high heat.

Bring the liquid to the boil, scraping with a spatula to loosen the sediment on the bottom of the casserole.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the bacon, vegetables and woodcock to the liquid in the casserole. Add the garlic and bouquet garni. Lay the potatoes evenly over the top of the contents of the cass-erole. Cover the casserole tightly and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Add the peas, recover the casserole and simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the casserole from the heat and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve at once, straight from the casserole.

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