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Pheasant and Wild Garlic Dolmades

I should really call this 'when opportunity knocks'! There are moments when opportunities arise while out and about, it's all about good fortune, random happenings, destiny (however you like to call it) and whether or not to act on the opportunities presented - when it comes to road-kill pheasant, I'm always happy to swing with the opportunity. This recent RTA bird was initially destined to become 'Pheasant Kiev'. However, while out early yesterday morning to pick the wild garlic required, my mind drifted and happened upon another idea I've had for a while, a take on Dolmades - this was in part due to the terrific size of some of the leaves I was finding, they were perfect for wrapping into mouth watering parcels and a bit of fun too.

The following recipe made 8 dolmades and there is still enough mixture left over for at least 6 more - I should have picked more leaves! It's a flavour fusion reminiscent of the Mediterranean, North Africa and the UK.

Ingredients:

2 Pheasant Breasts (skin & yellow fat removed) or Organic Chicken Breasts
16 Large Wild Garlic Leaves (for the parcels - I chopped the stems and added them to the mix)
1 Red Onion
4 Spring Onions (chopped)
5 Cloves Garlic
20g Piece of Root Ginger
125g Butter
100g Wholegrain Rice (cooked)
75g Pine Nuts (toasted)
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
50g Petit Pois (cooked)
Green Seaweed Powder (mine contains 3 varieties)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Smoked Sea Salt
Dry Thyme
Mixed Spice
Extra Wild Garlic Leaves

I melted the butter gently in a pan on a low heat, fine grated in the garlic cloves, ginger, red onion, lemon zest and added the pheasant breasts - I gently poached them in this mixture until just cooked. Once cooked I took them off the heat, left to cool and then chopped into smaller pieces and put into a mixing bowl. I then added the cooked rice, spring onion, pine nuts, seaweed powder, black pepper, smoked salt, petit pois, thyme, mixed spice, chopped wild garlic stems and some finely chopped wild garlic leaves, lemon juice and mixed this until blended and infused.

Ready to wrap
I then used two large wild garlic leaves to wrap around a generous helping of the filling (see image right) and used cocktail sticks to hold them together (I think lengths of thinly sliced seaweed could be used to tie them but didn't have any to hand). The finished parcels were then placed in an ovenproof dish which was buttered and lined with extra wild garlic leaves to prevent the parcels from sticking and potentially burning from contact with the hot dish, I also added some water and extra lemon juice to act as a steaming agent once the whole dish was covered tightly in tin foil. I steamed them in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for approx 20 - 25 minutes.
                                                                                                                                               
Wild Garlic lined dish
Steamed and ready to serve










These parcels would be excellent served as part of a mezze type platter dish. Other fresh wild ingredients such as nettles could be added to the mixture. The other ingredients could also be substituted or added to - there are no hard and fast rules regarding cooking, I find this incredibly appealing. Saying that, I'm sure some will disagree but even I know that adding such things like horse shit to a recipe isn't going to go down very well at all. My advice is play about and experiment, the worse that can happen is that something doesn't quite work out as expected but then again you may discover something new and exciting.  

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