The latest addition to the Great British Chefs blogging team, food writer and supper club host James Ramsden, opens with this beauty of a picnic recipe. Should the sun stay with us for more than a couple of hours, then this might be the recipe to make your weekend fly.
Much head-scratching occurs when it comes to picnic food. Now that summer has decided to surprise us with its presence, I for one spend more time than is probably necessary staring out of the window and idly considering just what and how much I can shove in my face at the weekend.
And it’s never all that straightforward. Good, proper, homemade picnic food needs to fulfil several criteria: it has to be portable, obviously. Ideally it shouldn’t need eating with cutlery, or at least without the need for sharp knives and fish forks – a plastic fork at the most (again, this is ideally). It also shouldn’t demand too much time in the kitchen. For the sun is out, and you don’t want to be grunting around with homemade puff pastry and slow poached eggs. Finally, of course, it should be bloody delicious.
I feel quietly confident that this pie – which I originally made with pheasant eggs but which has here been adapted – ticks the boxes. All you need to serve it with is a pot of mustard and a bottle of cold cider.
8 pheasant or hens’ eggs
1/2 tsp cayenne
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
500g puff pastry
A beaten egg
Salt and pepper
Bring a pan of water to a boil and boil the eggs for 4 minutes (6 if using hens’ eggs). Plunge directly into cold water and leave.
Skin the sausages and mix with the herbs and a good pinch of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper.
Peel the eggs carefully.
Divide the pastry in half and roll half of it into a rectangle that fits in a baking tray. Flour the baking tray and lay the pastry on top. Add a layer of sausage meat, leaving a little space around the outside. Put the eggs down the middle, making a little groove with your thumb as you go for added stability.
Now gingerly build the remaining sausage meat around the eggs.
Roll out the other half of the pastry. Brush the edges of the first sheet with beaten egg and lay the other sheet of pastry over the top, pressing to stick and crimping to pimp. Now brush all over with egg and make a few slits in the top. Chill.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rest for a few minutes and serve, or leave to cool for a picnic.
Inspired? For more great picnic recipes from some of Britain’s greatest chefs visit Great British Chefs collection. What are some of your favourite pies or pastries for picnics? Let us know here or over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.