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Game bird ragu

The clocks have gone back, the temperature has plummeted and its slap bang in the middle of game season. I've created a game bird ragu which is perfect with thick pasta or on top of polenta or mash. In this recipe, I used partridge and pheasant but you could use any small game bird, throw in some venison if you like or, if you want something a bit less game-y, you could use pork shoulder instead. Have a look at our shop for all of these ingredients.

Ingredients for 4 helpings to serve with a carb of your choice:

Around 800g whole game birds (halved if larger than a partridge) such as pigeon, partridge, pheasant or guinea fowl.

200g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces

1 clove garlic, grated

1 medium brown onion, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

150g mushrooms, finely chopped

40g dried wild mushrooms

2 tablespoons thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 glass white wine

Bay leaf

2 tablespoons tomato puree

Veg or sunflower oil for frying

25g butter

Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in 300ml boiling water in a small bowl for 20 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, deep frying pan with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. Add the butter to the pan, once melted, add the bacon, onion, celery and garlic. Turn the heat down to low and cook the vegetables until soft but not browned.

Add the thyme and mushrooms to the pan and cook with a pinch of salt until softened. Finely chop the soaked wild mushrooms and add to the pan along with the wine. Turn up the heat, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushroom soaking liquid, bay leaf and the browned meat and simmer over a low heat with the lid on for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour, until the meat is soft and can be easily shredded.

Remove the birds from the pan and leave to cool. Meanwhile, add the tomato puree to the remaining sauce, bring to the boil and reduce by half.

Once cooled, pick the meat off the birds and shred. Add back into the sauce along with any juices that have collected. Serve with long, thick pasta, creamy polenta or mash.

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